What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as 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 need a root canal treatment.

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 severe pain and swelling of the tissues surrounding the tooth.  The symptoms of an abscess can range from dull ache to severe pain and the tooth may be tender when you bite.  If a root canal treatment (RCT) is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.

What does it involve?

The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal system.  The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection.

A root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure and may require more than one visit to your dentist.

At the first appointment, the infected pulp is usually removed.  Any abscesses, which may be present, can also be drained at this time.  The root canal system is then thoroughly cleaned and shaped to receive a root canal filling.  A temporary filling may be placed and the tooth is allowed to settle.

A root treated tooth will become brittle with time with increasing risk of tooth fracture. To prevent this the tooth will require a crown.