Root Canal Treatment (Endodontics)
Why Do You Need Root Canal Treatment and What is it?
The short answer is to keep the tooth in your head.
It is always preferable to save a tooth wherever possible as nothing can fully replace the look or function of your natural teeth. All options should be discussed before treatment begins.
If you have a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed, sometimes the only option to save it is root canal treatment (also known as endodontic treatment).
Your teeth consist of a hard outer layer called the enamel, an inner layer called dentine and the innermost core called the pulp.
The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue and extends from the pulp chamber in the centre of the tooth above the gum line and runs down the canal in the centre of the root to the tip of each root. Your front teeth have one or two root canals, while your back teeth have from 3 to 6 root canals.
The pulp can become infected through severe decay, gum disease, injury and trauma. When a tooth has an infected pulp there can be chronic or acute pain at any time, an abscess can form, and there can be a general feeling of sickness.
Root canal treatment is where the nerve and pulp are removed from within the root of the tooth, any infection cleared and then the root filled, while the tooth is preserved.
Root canal treatment might be the only option for retaining your tooth, and your dentist will advise if it is suitable for your particular case. Root canal treated teeth can last for many years.
What Are the Symptoms of Root Canal Infection?
Symptoms that you may indicate you have an infected root canal include:
- Pain, particularly when touched or with the pressure of eating.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold.
- Discolouration or darkening of the tooth.
- Swelling or soreness in the gum next to the tooth
- A fistula may form near the infected tooth. A fistula may look like a pimple: it allows the pus to drain from the infection.
What Happens During a Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment may take a number of visits to complete.
At the first appointment, you may present with throbbing pain that will not abate. The first thing is to make you numb so that the infection can be drained through the root canal of the tooth. The canal is cleaned and shaped to remove bacteria and allow any pressure to release through the tooth.
The canal will be irrigated, disinfected and a sedative dressing will be placed in the tooth to help ease the pain and start the healing.
At your second appointment, if all signs of infection have cleared, you will have a permanent root filling placed in your tooth.
Some root-filled teeth need a dental ceramic crown to be placed to hold your tooth together, add strength and restore it to full function.
Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?
A dental abscess can be very painful. Root canal therapy is all about stopping the pain.
The reason your dentist recommends root canal therapy is because you are already in significant pain or to prevent pain.
Root canal therapy is completed using a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth, gums and surrounding area, and care is taken to minimise your discomfort.
After the first treatment, things should start to improve, but it may take a couple of days for the infection to resolve.
Tips to Maintaining A Tooth After Root Canal Treatment
While undergoing root canal treatment minimise chewing on that side of your mouth to help protect your fragile tooth that is under repair.
Avoid chewing gum or sticky or hard foods while your temporary filling is in place.
Continue to brush twice a day as normal.
While your temporary filling is in place, continue to floss once a day but pull the floss out from the side rather than straight up next to your temporary filling. Once your root canal treatment has successfully been completed, you can return to flossing as normal.
Take any prescribed antibiotics for the duration listed on your prescription. Don’t stop taking your antibiotics even if all signs of infection are gone.
During your root canal treatment, rinse your mouth three times a day with warm salty water. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, then gently swish the water around your mouth before spitting it out.
Keep your regular dental maintenance check-up appointments so your dentist can monitor your root canal treated tooth.
Worried About Infected Teeth?
If you are worried about a dead tooth or avoid chewing on a tooth, then book an appointment with Meg Bowtell Dentist in Alderley