Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure that involves the diagnosis and treatment of the inside of the tooth. This treatment can save a tooth that has been damaged by deep decay, trauma or infection. Frequently the alternative to root canal treatment is extraction of the tooth.
The purpose of this treatment is to remove the damaged nerve and the infection from inside the tooth, thereby saving it and restoring it to good health so that it can function properly inside your mouth and prevent the need for a dental implants or bridge.
Deep inside every tooth is a chamber and root canals that contain living tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains a fine network of tissue fibres, nerves, and blood vessels. Bacteria may enter the pulp due to deep decay, trauma, cracks, repeated dental procedures or periodontal (gum) disease. These bacteria damage the pulp and eventually destroy it and may lead to spread of the inflammation in the bone and formation of an abscess. Your dentist will explain that the tooth will need an extraction of if you wish to save the tooth root canal treatment is needed. Symptoms of the infection may include sensitivity to temperature, discomfort or tenderness when eating, visible injury of the tooth or pain and swelling in the tooth and gums.
Pain (occasionally severe) may occur at any time during this process, although not always. Sometimes your dentist will notice a shadow on the radiograph (x-ray) in the bone associated with your tooth.
If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will probably recommend root canal treatment. The purpose of root canal treatment is to remove the injured/diseased pulp and the bacteria from inside the root canals. The canals are then thoroughly cleaned and sealed.
This is achieved by making a small hole through the tooth into the pulp chamber, locating and measuring the root canals, then cleaning them with disinfectant and widening them using fine instruments called files. An antibacterial dressing is placed in the canals and the tooth is sealed for a period of a 1-2 weeks. At the second visit, the canals are filled to secure the clean space.
Many general dentists perform root canal procedures. However some teeth are more difficult to treat because of complex anatomy – narrow, curved, calcified or blocked canals. In these cases your dentist may prefer to refer you to a dentist who has had additional training in this area and who has limited their practice to endodontic procedures. A practice limited to endodontics will be equipped with the latest technology to assist the dentist completing even the most complex case to the highest standard.
Unfortunately the only alternative treatment is extraction of the tooth. Once the pulp is destroyed the damage cannot be reversed and it will not heal.
This can vary according to the complexity of the root canals, the presence of infection, or if re-treatment is being carried out. However most treatment sessions usually last for 60-80minutes.
No. Modern techniques and local anaesthesia are used throughout the procedure, and every possible step is taken to ensure that you are comfortable while the work is being carried out. Root canal procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothache caused by pulp inflammation or infection. On very rare occasions some teeth may be particularly sensitive however, a number of techniques are available to enable them to be treated pain free.
Following treatment the tooth maybe a little tender or uncomfortable to bite on. These symptoms are usually minor and do not last long. They can be controlled easily with over the counter medication, like Nurofen or Paracetamol. Very occasionally a patient might experience ‘a flare up’ following treatment which can give rise to significant pain. Should this occur the acute symptoms can also be managed with painkillers and sometimes with antibiotics.
A ‘flare up’ is an unfortunate and rare occurrence and is related to factors such as host response and bacterial virulence. It does not mean that the tooth has a lesser chance of successfully being treated. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. If you have severe pain, pressure or swelling that lasts more than a few days, or if you have any concerns regarding the treatment please call the practice 051 857989 and we will deal with the problem.
Your own particular requirements can and will be discussed before any treatment is undertaken. Often reassurance, a gentle manner and explaining what will happen, works well for many anxious patients.
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to the dentist who referred you. You should contact your dentist’s practice for placement of a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our practice. Your own dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. Frequently root filled teeth need to be crowned in order to protect them from fracture. The tooth can be used following treatment however, until it is protected with a filling or a crown you should take care not to bite too heavily on it. A badly fractured tooth often cannot be saved.
Like all teeth, the root filled tooth requires good day-to-day care. A root filled tooth can still decay; therefore regular check ups with your dentist are important. It is unusual for patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment. If a problem does occur please contact the practice 051 857989.
Root canal treatment is very successful when completed to a high standard and when the tooth is then restored with a good quality restoration. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 85–90% of cases.
It should be remembered that it is impossible to guarantee 100% success of any medical or dental procedure. Even with the very best treatment, healing may not occur due to circumstances beyond the control of the physician/dentist.
If your tooth is not suitable for root canal treatment or the chance of success is unfavourable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident.
Should treatment fail (which can be established either through a return of pain or symptoms or when a x-ray shows no healing), further steps might be required to eradicate the infection. These include redoing the root treatment or surgical techniques.
Root canal treatment is time consuming, it requires expensive specialised equipment and highly trained staff. The cost will vary depending on how complex the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat and the fee is usually more.
Generally, root canal treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted and the resulting space restored. An extracted tooth will probably require replacement with a bridge or implant to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration. With root canal treatment you save your natural teeth and money.