What is root canal treatment and why is it needed?
Root canal treatment (known as endodontics) involves the removal of the infected nerve and bacteria from the tooth. When the nerve or blood supply of the tooth is infected due to deep decay, trauma or filling leakage it is essential to remove the infected tissue to prevent it from spreading further. If left untreated an abscess may eventually form and this can be very painful. Root canal treatment often allows you to save a tooth that may otherwise have to be extracted.
Is root canal treatment painful?
We use a local anaesthetic and this should stop you feeling any pain during treatment. Once the local anaesthetic wears off you may feel discomfort for the next 24 to 48 hours. You should rest, if possible, and take painkillers such as paracetamol.
What does the procedure involve?
The root canals are cleaned using special instruments and materials to remove all bacteria and infection. A temporary filling is put in to allow the tooth to settle and at the final appointment a permanent, flexible material fills the empty space inside the root.
Once treatment is complete we will place either a composite filling or a crown onto the treated tooth in order to provide it with strength and support, as the tooth may become weakened, discoloured and brittle after the nerve has been removed.
Depending on the severity of the infection and the number of tooth roots affected, root canal treatment can require at least two visits.
What if the treatment doesn’t work?
If conventional endodontics fail then we may need to undertake surgical approach and carry out a minor surgical procedure called an apicectomy to remove the infection. We will explain this procedure to you should this be the case.
Other alternatives may include extraction. The space can then be filled with a bridge, implant or removable partial denture. This will not only prevent remaining teeth from shifting but will also aid chewing and speaking.