Root canal treatment, also referred to as Endodontics is required when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury.
If the pulp becomes infected, the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess.
If root canal treatment is not undertaken the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out. Once the pulp is destroyed, the tooth cannot heal and it cannot be left in the mouth. Although some people would prefer an extraction, it is usually best to keep as many natural teeth as possible.
Root canal treatment is a routine dental procedure and painless. A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling.
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist. During the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. Any abscesses, which may be present, can also be drained at this time. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle, a crown is usually required at this point to prevent the tooth from fracturing.
The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.