Root canal treatment, or endodontics, can save a tooth from being extracted. Whether due to decay or trauma, when bacteria reaches the internal part of the tooth, it can cause an infection. Endodontics involves removing the infected tissue from the tooth, cleaning away any bacteria before sealing the tooth with a filling.
When will I need endodontics?
If the pulp is infected, you will need root canal treatment before the infection spreads. The pulp is made up of soft tissue, including nerves and blood vessels, and extends from the crown to the tips of the root. Symptoms can include pain, increased sensitivity to temperature, discolouration, a metallic taste, gum tenderness or swelling.
What does the treatment involve?
Root canal therapy usually requires several appointments, the number will depend on which type of tooth is being treated. Between appointments, the tooth will be covered and temporarily restored.
- An x-ray will be taken to check the root canals and see if there are any other signs of infection in the surrounding bone.
- A rubber sheet is placed around the tooth to keep it dry. The infected pulp is removed under a local anaesthetic (if necessary) and root canals are flushed with an anti-bacterial solution.
- The canals are shaped with tiny instruments and washed again to remove any debris.
- The freshly cleaned root canals are then filled with a rubber compound to seal the tooth and prevent bacteria from entering.
- The filled root canal is sealed with a permanent filling or may need a crown to help restore tooth shape and functionality.
In some cases, the infection can cause the tooth to darken. Before sealing the root canal, we can whiten the tooth with internal whitening, which involves putting a bleaching agent inside the tooth. Once the discolouration has been corrected, we can then seal the tooth.
Looking after your treated tooth
If looked after properly, with regular brushing and flossing, your root canal treated tooth should stay trouble-free and provide a long lasting repair. Even though the pulp has been removed, the tooth will stay intact because the canals have been sealed to prevent re-infection. Regular check-ups are also recommended so any problems can be detected early.
Aram Navai – our Dentist with a special interest in Endodontics