What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury which can cause root canal pain. If left, the decay or injury will lead to an abscess which may result in the need for a tooth to be removed. Endodontics is the prevention of tooth loss. It is therefore essential that treatment is carried out quickly after diagnosis to avoid unnecessary, additional decay.
Why is root canal treatment needed?
If the pulp becomes infected the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess.
If root canal treatment (RCT) is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.
Does it hurt?
No. A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done.
What does it involve?
The aim of the root canal treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and the root canal filled to prevent any further infection.
Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist.
At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. Any abscesses, which may be present, can also be drained at this time. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in 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 will my tooth look like after treatment?
In the past, a root filled tooth would often darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
What if it happens again?
Root canal treatment is usually very successful (85-90%). However, if the infection comes back the treatment can be repeated.
What if I don’t have the treatment?
The alternative is to have the tooth out. Once the pulp is destroyed, it can’t heal and it is not recommended to leave an infected tooth in the mouth. Although some people would prefer an extraction, it is usually best to keep as many natural teeth as possible to maintain a healthy bone structure.
Will the tooth be safe after treatment?
Yes. However, it is better to restore the tooth with a crown to provide extra support and strength to the tooth.