Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy (or endodontic treatment) involves the removal of infected or damaged tissue from inside a tooth. This tooth nourishing tissue is known as the pulp and, once it has been removed, the pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned, disinfected, filled and sealed. 

The most common cause of pulp damage is severe decay or a fracture that exposes the pulp to bacteria, which may cause infection. Other causes of pulp damage include traumatic injury such as a blow to the mouth, a cracked or loose filling, repeated fillings in a tooth, and occasionally periodontal disease. 

The benefits

Root canal therapy can save a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted and although the pulp is removed in the process, the treated tooth is kept alive by the surrounding tissues. Retaining a natural tooth is the best option for your oral health and your pocket!

The treatment process

Endodontic treatment can usually be performed in just one or two visits and involves the following steps:

  • The area is carefully numbed and a small protective sheet, called a ‘dental dam’, is placed over the teeth to keep the area clean and dry – this is essential for effective treatment.
  • A small opening is made in the crown of the tooth to allow for the removal of the pulp and to shape the space prior to filling.
  • After cleaning and shaping, the root canals are filled with a rubber-like material, called ‘gutta-percha’, and then sealed.
  • In most cases, a temporary filling is used to close the opening. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, we may place a post inside the tooth before it is built up with a solid core.
  • If the tooth has been considerably weakened, we may advise you to have a crown fitted to protect it from future damage and infection.

Does root canal therapy hurt?

Modern techniques mean root canal therapy involves little or no discomfort. And often patients are grateful for the pain relief provided by the treatment itself.
Cleaning the root canals may cause slight tenderness after treatment but over-the-counter pain killers can help alleviate the discomfort. If pain persists or gets any worse, be sure to call your dentist.

What are the alternatives?

The alternative to root canal therapy is extraction of the infected tooth, but loss of a tooth can create functional and aesthetic problems. A lost tooth can also be replaced with a denture, bridge or implant but these treatments can be more costly.

How successful are root treatments?

If carried out to a high standard, root canal therapy is successful in 95% of cases. Problems can occur if the tooth develops decay, the restoration placed on the tooth fails, the tooth develops a crack or, despite good care, the tooth does not heal as expected. If appropriate, further endodontic treatment or surgery may be carried out.

Any more questions? Give us a call on 0117 968 4888.

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