Root Canal Treatment
What is root canal/endodontic treatment?
The procedure known as endodontic or root canal treatment involves the removal of infected or damaged tissue from inside a tooth. This tissue, called the pulp, contains nerves and blood vessels that help nourish the tooth. After the pulp is removed, the pulp chamber and root canals are carefully cleaned, shaped, disinfected, filled and finally sealed to prevent recurrence of bacterial invasion.
What are the benefits of endodontic treatment?
Endodontic treatment saves teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted. Loss of a tooth could create a functional problem such as chewing or an aesthetic problem. Restoring this lost tooth may involve the provision of a prosthetic replacement such as a denture, bridge or a dental implant the costs of which are variable.
There is no real substitute for your own tooth in terms of health and investment.
What causes disease or injury to the pulp?
The most common causes are extensive decay, deep fillings, trauma (such as a blow to the mouth), a crack running into the pulp and periodontal disease.
What is the result?
When a pulp is left exposed to bacteria, infection can occur. If this is left untreated, the infection can build up at the tip of the root forming an abscess. This often causes pain and swelling and can lead to the destruction of the bone supporting the tooth.
How many appointments are necessary?
Sometimes endodontic therapy is completed in one appointment but usually two and sometimes three visits may be necessary.
Does endodontic therapy hurt?
With the use of modern techniques, done correctly root canal therapy typically involves little or no discomfort once a local anaesthetic is administered. Often there is pain before treatment and endodontic therapy provides relief.
Will there be pain after procedure?
Cleaning the root canals may cause some slight tenderness but usually over-the-counter pain killers such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, alleviate the discomfort.
How much does endodontic treatment cost?
The expense of an endodontic procedure varies depending on how severe the problem is and the type of tooth. Molars with two, three or even four canals are more difficult to treat and the fee will therefore be more. Equally endodontic re-treatment is a more complex procedure and too has a greater fee.
Can all teeth be treated endodontically?
Occasionally a tooth cannot be saved. Endodontic treatment can be performed only if the root canals are accessible and can be adequately cleaned and sealed. The tooth must also have sufficient bone support. Root canal therapy will only be carried out when there is a good prognosis and I will discuss this with you at your initial consultation
Can the treatment fail?
Endodontic treatment can have a success rate of up to 90%.
On occasions despite good care the tooth may not heal as expected due to bacteria remaining within the pulp complex. This may be in accessory canals with complex anatomy, severely curved canals or narrow canals that can not be appropriately cleaned and shaped. Further endodontic treatment or surgery may be carried out if appropriate
Problems can also occur if the tooth develops decay or the restoration on the tooth fails. A tooth that develops a crack can also be a cause of failure and may result in loss of the tooth.
Will I need to return for any additional treatment?
Your dentist will see you again for a routine review after treatment to make sure that the treated tooth has properly settled.
What do I do after endodontic treatment is completed?
Following root canal treatment the remaining tooth is commonly left considerably weakened. Long term a definitive restoration of the tooth is required to protect the tooth from future fracture such as an onlay or crown.
Further information about root canal treatment can be found at the British Endodontic Society by following this link: http://www.britishendodonticsociety.org.uk/.
You can also find out more information by linking to this short video.