Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth. When one undergoes a root canal, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed.

When is root canal needed?

Several conditions can lead to irreversible damage of the dental pulp such as-

  • Decay
  • Deep fillings
  • Trauma
  • Tooth fracture
  • Infection

Sometimes there is no apparent cause.

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What happens during the root canal treatment?

  • An examination with x-rays and special tests to assess the health of the dental pulp and surrounding tissue.
  • Usually a latex sheet called a rubber dam is placed around the tooth to isolate it from the mouth.
  • Access to the root canals is gained by drilling a hole through the top of the tooth.
  • The root canal is measured for length and then cleaned and shaped with fine dental files. The root canals are also washed with sterilising solution.
  • The root canals are then sealed near to their tip with a permanent filling.
  • The tooth is then restored back into useful function.

Is root canal treatment painful?

  • Local anaesthetic and modern painkillers are used to provide comfortable treatment.
  • Usually painful symptoms improve once treatment is started.

How is the tooth restored following root canal treatment?

  • It is very important that any restoration adequately seals the root

Filling from infection by bacteria from the mouth.

  • Teeth requiring root canal treatment often have large fillings or extensive damage and will require a crown to restore them properly. These teeth are also weaker, and the added protection of a crown is recommended.

How successful is root canal treatment?

  • If the root canals can be fully cleaned and sealed and the tooth properly restored, then treatment has a very high success rate.
  • The treatment may take several visits to complete with temporary fillings and dressings placed in the tooth between visits.
  • Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed when an infection is present.

What complications can occur during root canal treatment?

  • Because that root canals are very fine and curved in some teeth, it may be difficult to clean the canals completely. Occasionally a piece of a file may break often the root canal due to the strain placed on these fine instruments. Sometimes these are retrievable, but they may also be sealed in the root canal as part of the filling.
  • Pain or discomfort may occur between appointments due to ongoing tenderness of the tissues around the tooth, or flare-up of an abscess, or a hair-line crack in the root.
  • An abscess or ongoing pain will rarely persist following root canal treatment. If this occurs the tooth will require some further treatment.
  • Occasionally a surgical procedure may be required if discomfort persists.
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