Root canal treatment (Endodontics)
A root canal filling allows you to keep a tooth that has ‘died’, rather than getting it extracted.
There is a nerve inside every tooth and sometimes this nerve dies. It can be caused by bacteria reaching the nerve via a large decay or crack, a heavy knock to the tooth or sustained heavy pressure on the tooth. When the nerve dies the tooth can go dark in colour, can cause pain and can also become infected with an abcess.
How is it done?
There are a few appointments needed to complete a root canal filling; usually between two and four visits.
The first visit involves removing the remnants of the damaged nerve. A special dressing is placed where the nerve was and we then leave the tooth for 1-2 weeks. You will have a temporary filling in place during this time.
Subsequent appointment/s involve re-dressing the tooth with medications and preparing the ‘canal/s’ for the final root filling.
Once the tooth is symptom free, the canal/s are filled with a rubber-based material. To ensure we minimize any risk of bacteria leaking into the canals again, there are two steps we take;
- Remove any old filling material in the tooth and restore with a fresh filling.
- Wait a period of six months to ensure the root canal filling is settled, then place a crown over the tooth.
This will seal the tooth from any bacteria and strengthen it to avoid any fractures in the future.
There is a small risk of the tooth re-infecting if bacteria gains access to the canals again. In this case, re-treatment of the tooth can be performed.
Discolouration of the tooth can occur in some cases. Internal bleaching of the tooth is often effective to resolve this and in more persistent cases a crown or veneer can be fitted.
A root filled tooth may not be as strong as a normal tooth, particularly if it is a back tooth. Crowning the tooth will improve the tooth’s strength.
During the root treatment itself, there is a small risk of a file fracturing in the canal, perforation of a canal and root fracture. If this occurs the treatment would be referred and assessed by a specialist Endodontist.
Conscientious home care including brushing every morning and night, flossing once a day and regular six monthly check ups to review the crown and surrounding teeth.