General Dentistry » Root Canal Therapy
Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure that can help to save an infected tooth. Also known as endodontics, it is a delicate procedure that should be pain free, usually carried out under local anaesthetic. Nervous patients can also have the treatment under IV sedation.
Your dentist may prescribe root canal treatment if the pulp of your tooth has become infected. While some patients may fear the treatment, most report that it is no worse than having a filling, although your appointment may be longer. This is because it is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Without it, you will lose your tooth and may need expensive tooth replacement treatment such as bridges or dental implants. A painful dental abscess could also form.
There are several reasons that the pulp or nerve at the centre of the tooth can become infected, including tooth decay, damaged or leaking fillings, and injury. The pulp comprises soft tissue including blood vessels and nerves, and if it becomes infected with bacteria it will start to die. These bacteria move down to the end of the root canal, meaning that the tissues around the bottom of the tooth become red, swollen and painful.
Root canal treatment involves removing the pulp and nerve from the tooth, cleaning the root canal space using special files, and clearing out any infection. Your tooth does not need the nerve to remain healthy, with one of the signs of infection being the tooth changing colour hen the nerve dies. Afterwards, the root canal space is filled, and a crown will be fitted to strengthen your tooth.
The length of your appointment will vary depending on which tooth is infected. While front teeth usually have only one root canal, back teeth can have several. In some cases, you may need more than one appointment to complete treatment.