Root canal treatment; also referred to as a root canal filling or endodontics is required in order to save a tooth when it becomes infected.
Each tooth has an area of tissue in the middle called the ‘pulp’, which contains the nerve supply to your tooth. The pulp can become irritated due to decay, deep fillings, a fracture in the tooth or gum disease. This will cause pain in the long-run, but may have no symptoms to begin with.
If not treated, an infected tooth will become very painful. Sometimes the pain will settle, however in time it will reoccur. Therefore the treatments options are an extraction or a root canal filling.
What happens during root canal treatment?
You will be given a local anaesthetic injection, and then an opening is made in the top of the tooth down to the pulp. The dentist will then use narrow files to remove the nerve and clean the tooth. A few x-rays may be taken to determine the length of your tooth roots, various different disinfectants will then be used to ensure all bacteria are removed.
The dentist will then replace the pulp, with a material we call Gutta Percha. This is necessary to prevent bacteria re-infecting the empty space where your nerve has been removed.
Then the tooth will be filled with an ordinary filling material. A final x-ray will be taken of the completed root canal filling.
Depending on the severity of your infection, the stages above may be done in more than one appointment. In most cases, after the tooth has been disinfected, the dentist may prescribe you some antibiotics and suggest you come back in 2 weeks for completion of the root canal treatment.
At Valley Dental Practice we are able to carry out general root canal treatments. However, some cases can be harder to treat due to the location of the infection or the shape of the root/s on the tooth. In this case, we would refer you to an endodontist, who would use specialist equipment to carry out your treatment.
What happens after root canal treatment?
Due to an absence of the nerve supply now, the tooth can become brittle, and more likely to fracture or break. Therefore, we often recommend a crown after root canal treatment. Root filled teeth can also become darker following root canal treatment. If you are worried about this we would once again recommend a crown, or bleaching to make it lighter again.