Root canal treament
What is it?
Root canal treatment, a form of endodontics, is issued when the ‘pulp’ of a tooth (its living connective tissue) has become infected due to injury or decay.
When would root canal treatment be required?
If the dental pulp becomes infected this can spread throughout the tooth’s root canal system. The spreading of infection can ultimately cause an abscess to form. If this happens a root canal needs to be carried out to ensure the infection does not spread any further and teeth do not need to be removed.
Will the treatment hurt?
A local anaesthetic will be used during treatment to make sure it does not feel any different to the process of having a normal filling.
What is the treatment process?
The purpose of root canal treatment is to remove infection. Further infection is then prevented by cleaning and filling the root. The procedure requires skill and, in most cases, two or more appointments are needed for the course of treatment.
- The first appointment involves removing the infected pulp. At the same time any abscesses present are drained.
- After this the root canal will be cleaned and then shaped to prepare for the filling.
- A temporary filling is placed and the tooth is allowed to settle.
- During a later visit the tooth will be checked and then permanently filled, as soon as the infection is found to be completely cleared.
In previous years a tooth that has been root filled would have darkened following treatment.
Current techniques mean it is unlikely that the root filled tooth will darken in colour. If teeth do become discoloured there are a number of treatments available from cosmetic dentists to restore their natural colour and appearance.
Is re-infection possible?
Root canal treatment is extremely successful in the majority of cases. In the unlikely event that the infection does return the treatment may be repeated.
Is root canal treatment expensive?
The treatment can be provided by the NHS. However, the majority of dentists prefer to carry it out privately as it takes a high level of skill and is a time consuming procedure. A dentist should be able to provide you with a cost estimate.
What will happen if I do not have treatment?
The alternative is to remove the tooth but this is a last resort. It is not advisable for an infected tooth to be left in the mouth. Some clients may prefer to have an extraction, but it is normally preferable to retain natural teeth.
Will my tooth be safe following the treatment?
The tooth will be safe after the treatment, although it is preferable to use a crown to restore and protect it. This will give the tooth extra strength and support. Teeth that have been root-treated should be cared for in the same way as natural teeth, by cleaning them twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
It is a good idea to reduce your intake of sugary foods and only have them during mealtimes, if possible. You should also visit your dentist regularly for check-ups.