Root Canal Treatment (Endodontics)
Root canal treatment is used to repair and save teeth that are badly damaged or infected. During the treatment your dentist will remove infected pulp from deep inside your tooth.
An infection in the root canal can be extremely painful. It affects the nerves and blood supply to the tooth and, left untreated, will eventually cause the tooth to die. Root canal treatment can prevent further infection and save your tooth.
When is root canal treatment necessary?
You’re more likely to get an infection in your tooth if it’s decayed, cracked or otherwise damaged, or if you’ve had a large filling. Any of these increase your chances of needing root canal treatment in the future.
In the early stages of an infection, you may not have any discomfort, although you may notice a change in the colour of your tooth (this can mean the nerve in your tooth is at risk of dying). However, once an infection develops it can be very painful.
Some of the early-warning signs to look out for are:
- An increase in the sensitivity of your teeth
- Pain when you’re eating or biting down on your tooth
- A change in the colour of your tooth
- Painful or inflamed gums
- A small bump on your gum, near the painful tooth
What does root canal treatment involve?
The first thing your dentist will do is take an x-ray or your tooth so they can see the extent of the problem.
Before starting the treatment they’ll numb your mouth using a local anaesthetic so the whole procedure is completely pain free for you. Once the anaesthetic has taken effect they’ll remove the infected tissue from your tooth using small files and disinfectant. To make sure all the infected tissue is completely removed the dentist will continue to take x-rays throughout.
When they’ve removed all the tissue the dentist will fill your tooth with a rubber-like material. They may also advise that you have a crown fitted as teeth that have been root treated become brittle and are more likely to crack or break.
Root canal treatment can take anything from one to three visits to complete, depending on the complexity of the case.