Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (called the 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 the tooth has died or is dying. This would require treatment, as otherwise the tooth may produce pain and/or an abscess.

If the pulp becomes infected, the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which pus collects and it can cause swelling of the tissues around the tooth. The symptoms of an abscess can range from a dull ache to severe pain, and the tooth may be tender when you bite. If root canal treatment is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.

The aim of the treatment is to remove all the infection or inflammation from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection. Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most courses of treatment will involve one visit to your dentist but if the tooth is badly infected then two or more visits may also be required.

The treatment process involves the following:

  • Drilling a hole inside the tooth through the tooth surface/existing filling or crown and reaching up to the inner core of the tooth.
    Once here, the dentist will locate how many canals the tooth has and this will differ from tooth to tooth.
  • At this point, the dentist will apply a rubber sheet on the tooth to protect it from any salivary seepage in the tooth (thus re-contaminating with salivary bacteria). You will need to breathe through your nose as your mouth will be covered with this rubber sheet. If you have problem with mouth breathing or are claustrophobic, then please speak to your dentist at the beginning to find another solution.
  • After this, the dentist will remove all infected, inflamed or necrotic (dead) material from your tooth and clean and disinfect it. We will be using a bleach-like chemical to dissolve any such material as well.
  • Once the root canal system is nicely cleaned and shaped we will fill these tightly with a plastic material known as Gutta-Percha (a natural plant-based material). Your tooth then will be filled with a suitable material to build it back.

A tooth that has just received root canal treatment may also need a crown to prevent it from collapsing under biting forces. Your dentist will provide you with the necessary information about this so that you can make an informed decision.

At Hounds Road Dental Practice, we provide root canal treatment routinely and enjoy a good success rate. It is important to remember that root canal treatments are not 100% guaranteed to be successful and may fail even after the proper processes are followed.

If your root canal treatment is difficult to do or the best treatment can be provided by a specialist, then we will advise you accordingly and refer you to a suitable specialist after discussion with you.