Root Canal Therapy – Endodontics
Teeth are held in the jaw by their roots. Front teeth normally have one root, but further, back teeth will typically have two, three or four roots. Inside each root is a main canal containing a complex system similar to pipe-work containing nerves and blood vessels called the “pulp”. When a tooth is healthy the nerves are alive, but decay or injury can cause the nerves to die or become irritated and painful. This dead fleshy pulp inside the root canal can cause an abscess at the root tip.
Root canal treatment is where the pulp of the tooth is removed and these canals are filled with a specialised material, which seals the tooth against infection. This procedure is usually carried out as a result of an abscess or persistent nerve pain from a tooth that has otherwise been successfully repaired.
What are the benefits?
- Nerve damage can cause severe toothache; root canal treatment will alleviate this problem.
- Retains a functional tooth as once there is an infection the only alternative to root treatment is removal or extraction of the tooth.
- Tooth structure is still “best”; as tooth replacement is not always possible with dentures or implants.
- If you have the choice and want teeth to chew and smile, then keeping a tooth is generally more predictable and cheaper than replacing it.
- Root fillings are very successful and therefore the tooth can last many years. With good care & maintenance potentially a lifetime.
1) Rubber dam has to be used to isolate the tooth
2) The canals are found by making a small hole in the top of the tooth – usually removing an existing filling
3) Very small files are used to clean down the inside of the root canal
4) Disinfectants are introduced with the files to kill any bacteria – these are very strong and what makes modern root canal treatment so successful.(these make the rubber dam essential)
5) Special electronic depth detectors measure each root length
6) When fully cleaned & disinfected the root canals are dried
7) Root filling material & sealer is placed and an x-ray taken
8) The small access hole in the tooth is filled for a while
9) Once proved to be successful most root filled teeth need a crown to protect them. Root filled teeth get brittle with time and if they break again sometimes they cannot be repaired; so be careful during this waiting time! The dentist will advise you.