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.
If the pulp becomes infected, the tooth becomes non-vital and infection will cause loss of bone around the root of the tooth. This may lead to an acute infection or abscess.
Most people do not find treatment uncomfortable. A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. If pain is experienced your dentist will respond as necessary.
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infected tissue and bacteria from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection.
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.
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.
Root canal treatment is usually very successful. With success rates of more than 90% over 5 years for straight forward cases. If problems occur the treatment can be repeated but the outcome is not as good. There is a very small risk of a file separating and becoming stuck in the canal, your dentist will inform you if this happens and often treatment will proceed as usual, but if there are problems the tooth may be lost or referral to a specialist needed.
Root canal treatment is a routine dental procedure, which your dentist will be happy to do for you.
Root-treated teeth should be treated just the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth at least once a day, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste. Cut down on sugary snacks, and keep them only to mealtimes if possible. See your dentist for regular check-ups.
You may experience some discomfort from the affected tooth on the day of the procedure and for a couple of days after, most people can manage this with their usual painkillers .If pain is severe and increasing you made need some antibiotics and you should contact the surgery for advice. The root filled tooth will usually benefit from a crown to restore form and function as studies show that root-filled teeth are more prone to breaking.