Root Canal Therapy

When is root cancel therapy necessary?

Root canal treatment, or endodontic treatment, is necessary when the pulp of your tooth becomes infected or irreversibly inflamed. The pulp inside the tooth crown and root consists of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and essentially keeps your tooth alive. When this pulp is infected, it causes swelling and pressure inside the tooth. Since this pressure has nowhere to go, it causes severe pain and eventually irreversible damage to the pulp. If you experience this severe pain and then it starts to subside, this means the infection is spreading into your face and jaws. Generally it spreads into the bone. In order to save the tooth and alleviate severe pain a root canal treatment is necessary.

What is involved in root canal therapy?

Root canal treatment cleans out the infected pulp and roots to remove what is causing the pain. This saves the tooth from extraction and helps to prevent the infection reaching your jaw and other teeth.

To remove the pulp, the tooth and surrounding gums will be numbed and then a tiny access hole is drilled through the biting surface of the tooth or from behind, depending on which tooth it is. The access hole allows your dentist to remove the dead and diseased pulp from the root canal and pulp chamber. When these have been cleaned and disinfected, they are then shaped to allow for the special root filling material to be placed.

After the root canals have been shaped, they will be cleaned once again and then a thermoplastic material (thermo means 'heat,' plastic means 'to shape') is used to seal the root canal and pulp chamber. A filling is then used to cover the tiny access hole.  After a root canal treatment you might be given antibiotics.

How many appointments will I need for this treatment?

Depending on the severity of the problem, root canal treatment can take between two and three appointments. At your initial consultation we will take x-rays to determine the extent of the infection, how much pulp has to be removed and the anatomy of the tooth, including the number of canals. This determines how many treatments you will require.

Successful, long-term survival of a root filled tooth depends on a good long-term restoration on top of the tooth. This will vary depending on the strength of the remaining tooth structure. Often an onlay or crown is required to improve this and may be recommended.