Root Canal Treatment | Everything you need to know

Root Canal Treatment

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a procedure that treats a tooth when bacteria infect the pulp (nerve and blood vessels inside it). The pulp can become infected following decay in a tooth extending past the enamel and dentine, into the pulp chamber.

This can be from a tooth that is left untreated for too long or underneath an old filling or crown. Teeth that suffer from severe trauma and fractures causes an entry point for bacteria, infecting the pulp without decay.

An infected pulp has symptoms of tenderness and pain upon biting as well as extreme sensitivity to hot or cold. Antibiotics have a limited capability to treat infections in the pulp chamber leaving two treatment options. Extract the infected tooth or attempt to save it by completing root canal treatment.

What does it involve?

During root canal treatment, the nerve and blood vessels going into the teeth need to be cleaned and sealed. This reduces the amount of bacteria in the tooth and gives your body a chance to heal the infection. Teeth can have one or multiple root canals depending on the teeth that require the treatment.

The chewing teeth towards the back of your mouth, also known as premolars and back molar teeth have multiple roots. Each root has one or two root canals. While the teeth at the front – the front incisor and canine – have a single root, containing one root canal.

If the root canal treatment is on teeth at the back of your mouth, it may take more than one session. Usually, it takes one session to complete treatment on your front teeth. If it takes longer than one session, the dentist will apply medication in the canal and seal the tooth with a temporary filling.

For the majority of cases, the tissue near the tooth that has become inflamed will heal naturally. You may get a local anaesthetic to minimise the pain – causing discomfort similar to when you have a filling.

Are there any side effects?

One side effect of having root canal treatment is having a weaker tooth. This is because the canal needs to be enlarged so it can be cleaned properly. These teeth often have crowns placed to give them more strength and give better sealing on top of the tooth. Root canal treatment has a success rate of 80-90% and should last around 10 years, you just need to make sure you take the right amount of care with them!

It’s extremely important to take proper care of your teeth when you’re recovering from root canal treatment. You should try to avoid eating hard foods until the full treatment is complete. Normally, after restoration your teeth will feel slightly sensitive but there shouldn’t be any pain. You can get painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen to help overcome the pain. If you’re still feeling pain or notice any swelling then I’d recommend paying a visit to your dentist for a check-up.

Unsure about your dental health? Find your nearest Synergy Dental Clinic to book an appointment.

A version of this blog post appeared in the Bolton News in January 2017. 

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