Root Canal Treatment
What is root canal treatment?
Every tooth has a root canal system. This is the space within the tooth where the nerve or pulp of the tooth is located. Root canal treatment (endodontics) involves the cleaning, shaping and filling of the root canal system when the tooth nerve is irreversibly damaged through tooth decay or injury.
If the tooth nerve dies, this will eventually result in an infection forming around the end of the root which is known as a dental abscess. At this stage, the tooth will become extremely tender to touch or bite on and patients will often report with a dull throbbing pain associated with the affected tooth. If root canal treatment (RCT) is not carried out, the infection will spread, possibly leading to a facial swelling and the tooth will have to be removed.
Why is root canal treatment needed?
No. A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done.
Does root canal treatment hurt?
The aim of the treatment is to remove all the infected material from the root canal system and create a seal between the tooth and the surrounding bone to prevent any further infection. Root canal treatment is a skilled, technically demanding and time-consuming procedure occasionally requiring two visits to complete.At the first appointment the root canal system is cleaned and shaped using the latest rotary preparation techniques ready for filling. A temporary filling is placed and the tooth is left to settle. The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.
What does it involve?
In many cases and where clinically appropriate, the whole procedure can be carried out at a single visit for your convenience.
Historically, root filled tooth would often darken over a period of time after treatment. However, with modern techniques this can often be avoided. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance such as tooth whitening or porcelain veneers.
What will my tooth look like after treatment?
Root canal treatment is usually very successful with typical success rates of well over 90% at 5years post treatment. However, if the infection comes back the treatment can be repeated if required.
How successful is the treatment?
Once the nerve is irreversibly damaged, it cannot heal and the symptoms will only worsen with time. The only alternative is to have the tooth removed which then leaves a gap which can lead to the formation of unsightly spaces or problems with function in later years. Although some people would initially prefer an extraction, the best long term option is usually to try and retain as many natural teeth as possible.
What if I don’t have the treatment?
By its nature root canal treatment involves the removal of some of the core structure of the tooth to gain access to the root canal system. Studies have shown that the long term success of root treated teeth is enhanced by restoring them with a crown to provide extra support and strength to the tooth as well as preventing leakage and re-infection of the root canal system from bugs naturally found in the mouth.
Will the tooth be strong after treatment?
Root-treated teeth should be treated just the same as any other tooth with thorough cleaning twice daily and regular visits to your dentist
What about aftercare?