What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment, also known as endodontics, is a technique that is used to remove an infected/ inflamed dying nerve from a tooth. Root canal treatment is the removal of nerve tissue and blood vessels (known as dental pulp) which are situated in physical hollows within the tooth known as the root canals. Once removed the root canals are shaped, decontaminated and filled to block out the space where the infection originated. The results are the elimination of infection/ inflammation. This usually involves 2 visits with the dentist.
How do I know this may have happened?
You may experience pain when eating or drinking hot or cold food or drink, pain when biting or chewing or a loose tooth. Sometimes you may notice your tooth darken in colour.
Why do I need root canal treatment?
If the pulp is infected with bacteria, it will begin to die allowing the bacteria to multiply and spread which may eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which pus collects and can cause swelling of the tissues around the tooth. Left untreated, further symptoms eventually occur such as increased pain when biting or chewing, swelling of the gum, pus oozing from the affected tooth, facial swelling or the darkening of the tooth. Antibiotics, used to treat bacterial infections, are not effective in treating root canal infections.
Why is it important not to delay treatment?
Leaving the infected tooth in your mouth may make it worse. There may also be less chance of the root canal treatment working if the infection within your tooth becomes established. If root canal treatment is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.
What does it involve?
After taking x-rays, the dentist will remove all infection from the root canal system. The root is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in allowing the tooth left to settle and to ensure the infection has cleared. Finally, the tooth is permanently filled. In some cases, it may be necessary to restore the tooth with a crown for extra support and strength.
Will it be painful?
No, a local anesthetic is used so the procedure shouldn’t be painful and no different to having a filling. Any tenderness will naturally disappear over time.
How long does the treatment take?
Root canal treatment is a time-consuming and skilled procedure and most courses of treatment will require two or more visits to your dentist. There is typically 1-2 weeks between appointments.
What will the tooth look like?
Many people think that a root-filled tooth will darken after treatment but with modern techniques this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several, very effective treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
What is a crown?
A crown is an artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown is sometimes known as a ‘cap’.
How is a crown prepared & fitted?
The dentist will take an impression (mould) of the prepared tooth, one of the opposite jaw and possibly another to mark the way you bite together. The impressions will then be given to the dental technician, along with an appropriate shade to make sure that the colour looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth. It will be fixed in place with special dental cement or adhesive.
What will it all cost?
Costs will vary according to the extent of the root canal treatment and, if required, the type of crown and material used. It is advisable to get a written estimate and treatment plan before beginning any dental treatment.
How long will the treatment last?
In the vast majority of cases, a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment and, properly cared for, crowns should last for many years.