Root canal therapy (RCT) is a technique used when the internal part of the tooth, the pulp, has been irreversibly damaged. The usual cause of this is bacterial invasion of the pulp due to decay or trauma. When this occurs the pulp which is the blood and nerve supply, becomes infected and the long-term health of the tooth is compromised. This often results in a dental abscess which can be very painful and may cause swelling in the mouth and face. At ProDent Care, we use the most advanced techniques of root canal therapy to treat this often distressing condition.
Root canal therapy is basically the systematic cleaning and filling of the pulp space enabling the tooth to be saved and remain useful in the mouth. Once root canal therapy is completed the tooth is restored. Often this is with a tooth coloured composite resin although it may require a crown due to the weakness of the remaining tooth structure.
Teeth treated with root canal therapy can remain in the mouth as long as a normal tooth, but they should be regularly inspected as part of the routine dental check-up to ensure that there is no decay as this will often be undetected by the patient.
Why is root canal treatment needed?
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 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.
Does it hurt?
No. Usually a local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done.
What does it involve?
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then and filled to prevent any further infection. The treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits.
At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. Any abscesses, which may be present, can also be drained at this time. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle.
The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.
What will my tooth look like after treatment?
In the past, a root filled tooth would often darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
Will the tooth be safe after treatment?
Yes. However, as a dead tooth is more brittle, it may be necessary to restore the tooth with a crown to provide extra support and strength to the tooth.