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Root Canal Treatment


What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment (also called ‘endodontics’) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of a tooth (called pulp) is infected through decay or injury. You may not feel any pain in the early stages of the infection. In some cases your tooth could darken in colour, which may mean that the nerve of he tooth has died (or dying).

The aim is to remove all the infection from the root canal system, clean, disinfect and fill the canals, to prevent further infection. At the initial appointment, the infected pulp tissue is removed, and any abscess present is drained. This is done by making a hole through the tooth into the pulp chamber. The root canals are located. The entire root canal system is washed with disinfectant and an antibacterial dressing placed. At the next visit, if the infection has cleared completely, the tooth is filled with a plastic material down the roots (gutta percha) and the hole in the tooth filled. A crown will subsequently be placed to protect the remaining tooth structure.

FAQ

Does root canal treatment hurt?

No, usually a local anaesthetic is used and should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. There may be some tenderness afterwards but this should gradually get less over time.

What does it involve?

The aim of the treatment is to remove all the infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any other infection.

Root canal treatment is skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist.

What if I don’t have the treatment?

Root-treated teeth should be looked after just the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste. Cut down on sugary foods and drinks, and have them only at mealtimes if possible. See your dental team as often as they recommend for regular check-ups.

How do I care for my tooth afterwards?

It is important to keep the crown just as clean as you would your normal teeth. The crown itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. Brush last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste, and clean in between your teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss.

  • Do not eat anything until the numbness in your mouth wears off. This will prevent you from biting your cheek.
  • Do not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist.
  • Be sure to brush and floss your teeth as you normally would.
  • If the opening in your tooth was restored with a temporary filling material, it is not unusual for a thin layer to wear off in-between appointments. However, if you think the entire filling has come out, contact your endodontist.
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