Root canal treament

This is an endodontic dental procedure used to remove infection from inner tooth pulp that contains the nerves and blood supply. Tooth decay and oral injury may result in infected dental pulp.

Why is a root canal necessary?

Root canal treatment removes all infected tissue within the tooth's inner pulp so that infection does not spread. Infection may spread through the tooth roots to other teeth and through the blood supply to the rest of the body, if not treated quickly.

Infected dental pulp may damage tooth nerves and result in tooth loss. Root canal treatment prevents build-up of abscesses, gum disease and tooth loss. On a wider scale, the treatment prevents other health conditions, such as heart disease.

Does it hurt?

A local anaesthetic is provided so that root canal treatment is pain-free. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection and pain relief to reduce any post-procedure discomfort.

What does it involve?

  • Root canal treatment involves the dentist first cleaning the mouth and infected tooth.
  • Once cleaned, the dentist provides a local anaesthetic before accessing the inner tooth pulp and root.
  • Dental instruments are used to remove all infected tissue and drain any abscesses present.
  • Thereafter the tooth root is cleaned and temporary dental filler is inserted to seal the tooth so that infection is prevented from spreading.
  • A follow-up appointment is then made to check that infection has been completely eradicated. If clear of infection, the tooth is filled with a permanent dental filler. Where needed, a crown may be used to restore the tooth structure.

What will my tooth look like after treatment?

Advanced dental technology, techniques and material enable a root filled tooth to be treated so that it does not discolour over time. A range of treatments exist to restore tooth-colour should tooth shade begin to darken.

What if it happens again?

The majority of root canal treatments are successful. However if infection returns the root canal treatment may be repeated. Your dentist will provide you with the necessary information about root canal treatment prior to the procedure.

Is it expensive?

This is carried out on infected tooth roots and is available through the National Health Service (NHS). There may be waiting lists due to the amount of people requiring care and the level of endodontic skill required for the procedure. Root canal treatment may be accessed faster through private care at a cost. Dentists provide quotations for root canal treatment.

What if I don't have the treatment?

Choosing not to have the treatment is an option. However, declining treatment may result in spread of infection and tooth loss. Generally, the tooth may later require extraction and the damage may cause considerable pain and poor health. Having root canal treatment saves the tooth, prevents further dental trauma and promotes good health.

Will the tooth be safe after treatment?

After root canal treatment, the tooth is infection-free and not at risk of damaging other oral structures. Usually, a crown is placed over the treated tooth to strengthen tooth structure. Dental crowns look and function just like natural teeth.

Where is the treatment carried out?

Dentists or endodontists trained and qualified in root canal treatment provide the procedure within their dental practice or clinic. Either a NHS dentist or a private dentist may perform the procedure.

What about aftercare?

A tooth treated with root canal therapy will take a few weeks to heal and may be tender at first, requiring gentle cleaning. However, once healed, a root-treated tooth is much like a natural tooth requiring the same kind of oral hygiene care.

The dentist may advise on care with flossing or recommend a proximal brush for cleaning of the crowned tooth. Your dentist will provide aftercare guidance and schedule regular dental check-ups to monitor oral health.

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