Endodontics, aka root canal treatment, is a dental specialism that focuses on treating injured or infected dental pulp; the ‘engine room’ of the tooth. This pulp extends from the crown to the tips of the root and is packed full of living tissue, cells and nerves. If this vital area is damaged it can lead to tooth loss.
Damage to the pulp is normally caused by decay, a deep filling or trauma to the tooth and occasionally gum disease. The symptoms of pulp damage can include pain, increased sensitivity to extreme temperatures, discolouration of the affected tooth, a tenderness or swelling in the gum and a metallic taste in the mouth or there may be no symptoms at all.
What does the treatment involve?
- The infected pulp is removed under a local anaesthetic and the root canals are cleaned, shaped and flushed with an anti-bacterial solution.
- The freshly cleaned root canals are filled to seal the tooth and prevent any bacteria getting in.
- The filled root canal is sealed with a permanent filling or crown to help restore the tooth’s shape and functionality.
How long will it take?
Treatment normally requires several visits and is dependent on the type of tooth being treated. Front teeth are quicker to treat as they only have one root canal whereas back teeth can have up to four so will take longer. Appointments are normally spaced over weekly intervals and between these, the tooth is covered and temporarily restored.
Does it hurt?
You may think root canal treatment is a fairly drastic, and therefore painful procedure but don’t worry, we use a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth so it is a relatively comfortable experience, similar to having a filling with only mild discomfort after the treatment due to gum swelling.
Post treatment tips
- During and immediately following treatment be careful not to bite down too hard on the tooth
- Keep your teeth clean
- Give up smoking
- Avoid sugary food
If looked after properly your root canal treated tooth will keep on going and there will be no need to have it redone. Even though the pulp has been removed, if a tooth is fully matured, it is not necessary and by sealing the canals, re-infection is prevented.