Root canal treatment, also called endodontic treatment, aims to treat an infected tooth which may have developed an abscess. It involves gentle cleaning of the cavity inside the tooth to remove any bacteria or dead cells. The cavity is then disinfected and filled with a material which will prevent further or subsequent infections from occurring. Root canal treatment can render the tooth weak especially if the original cavity or decay was large. It is highly recommended that most root canal treated teeth should have a full coverage crown placed to protect the tooth against further breakdown.
Normal tooth Normally a tooth is a vital organ consisting of soft tissue and nerves (called the pulp), surrounded by a hard shell of enamel and dentine. The pulp lies in the tooth centre, within a thin canal extending from the crown of the tooth through to the tip of the root. This enables the tooth to feel temperature and pressure. However, if decay (caries) enters the pulp chamber, the tooth will become highly sensitive and often very painful. In many cases, an abscess may form in the pulp chamber and root canal treatment is then needed to treat the infected tooth. Sometimes the pulp of the tooth will die without causing any noticeable pain. Root canal treatment Root canal treatment involves removing the pulp from within the tooth and then sealing the cavity. This may be achieved in 2-3 appointments, depending on the complexity of the procedure. For example, generally a front tooth may only require two appointments, while a back tooth (molar) with more than 2 canals will usually require 2-3 appointments. Under a local anaesthetic, the remains of the nerve are cleaned through a small hole in the crown of the tooth. Thin files are used, together with cleaning solutions to clean and disinfect the tooth. Finally, a sealant is placed in the canal to close up the gaps in the tooth root. Upon completion of root canal treatment, a final covering must be placed on the tooth (a crown). The crown fits round and protects the tooth like a hat. This is necessary because all root filled teeth are more fragile than natural teeth. You may choose either a porcelain or gold crown for your tooth, or for a cheaper option, a silver or white filling. The latter options do not offer as much support for your tooth, meaning you may run the risk of tooth fracture in the future. Dental Radiographs, or x-rays, will need to be taken during this procedure. Our practice uses digital dental radiography which reduces x-ray exposure by 90% compared with conventional film radiographs. Radiation from a single dental radiograph is the equivalent of approximately 4 hours of sun exposure. Not only is this much safer for the patient, but it also provides an image within seconds, so there’s no waiting time.