What is Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment involves removing the inflamed or infected 'nerves' from teeth so the health of the supporting bone can be assured. This provides a sound foundation for the aesthetic and functional restoration of severely damaged teeth.
What is the 'nerve' of the tooth and why would it need to be removed?
Every healthy tooth contains a pulp chamber and root canal system filled with the connective tissue which is responsible for forming the dentine of the tooth. This tissue serves a protective function. It is often referred to as the nerve. If decay reaches this tissue or if a tooth fractures, bacteria can cause inflammation. This will make the tooth very sensitive to hot and cold and may cause spontaneous radiating pain. Severe inflammation may cause the nerve to die and then infection can spread, causing an abscess in the underlying bone.
How is the root canal treatment carried out?
The purpose of the treatment is to treat or prevent infection by elimination of bacteria from the root canals. This is done by making a hole through the top of the tooth into the pulp chamber. The root canals are located and measured. They are then cleaned, disinfected and widened with very fine files. The canals are then filled to prevent any recurrence. We use magnification and specialised rotary instruments to facilitate and prepare endodontic treatments.
Is it painful?
No! Local anaesthesia is used throughout the procedure and every possible step is taken to ensure that you are comfortable while the work is being carried out. Following treatment there is a possibility of discomfort. This is usually minor, does not last long and responds to mild analgesics.
How long does treatment take?
This will vary according to the complexity of the root canals. Sometimes treatment can be carried out in one session lasting 60 to 90 minutes. On other occasions it may be necessary to place a dressing in the tooth and arrange further treatment at another appointment.
Is success guaranteed?
Root canal treatment does enjoy a high level of success. However it should be remembered that it is impossible to guarantee the success of any medical procedure. Even with the very best treatment healing may not occur and further steps may need to be taken to eradicate the infection. In any circumstances where the success rate might be significantly compromised – a full discussion of options would be advised.
What happens after root canal treatment?
Treatment may weaken the tooth and it is essential that the tooth is properly protected. A crown is often necessary. Once restored the tooth can be used normally, but until then it is wise not to bite too hard.