Root Canal Treatment
Sometimes, damage or decay gets deep into a tooth and can affect the living, soft pulp tissue in the middle. If left unchecked, this can result in severe toothache, an abscess or mean that the tooth has to be removed. Sometimes any infection present can drain itself into the gum, this is known as a sinus (see picture). Root fillings, also known as root canal work or Endodontics can eliminate the pain and allow you to keep the tooth.
The process – it usually takes 2 appointments to complete the procedure. Initially the tooth is x-rayed to count and check the shape of the root canals and to see whether there is any added infection around the root. After applying local anaesthetic, a small access cavity is made through the top of the tooth into the ‘pulp’ that holds the nerve and blood supply. The pulp tissue is removed and the remaining hollow ‘canal’ cleaned, shaped and disinfected. Sometimes a thin plastic sheet is applied to the tooth called a ‘rubber dam’ to isolate it from other bacteria in mouth saliva. An x-ray is often taken at this stage with a small measured instrument in place to ascertain the exact length of each pulp canal, and make sure that the cleaning can be thorough. Usually a temporary filling is placed at this point to allow a medicament to continue the antibacterial process.
After a period of time, and assuming that the tooth is pain free and the Dentist is happy with the procedure to date, the root canals of the tooth are ‘filled’ with a soft plastic material called gutta-percha. This seals the canals from any further infection and then allows a filling or crown to be placed.
Sometimes if the Dentist feels that this treatment, although desirable, would be particularly complicated a referral can be made to a specialist Endodontist, someone with further specific training and post–graduate qualifications. We have used such a specialist in Leeds for many years and this has been of great benefit to many of our Patients.
- Allows badly damaged, infected, abcessed teeth to be preserved
- Good success rates
- Usually less expensive than extraction and denture / bridge / implant
- Can be a lengthy procedure
- Can seem costly (but see above)
- Not always successful
- Teeth may need crowns after completing (molars in particular)