Root canal surgery is carried out to save a tooth when the living tissue inside it becomes infected.
Root canal treatment is carried out to save a tooth when the living tissue inside it becomes infected and painful.
Teeth can become infected through cracks, trauma during sport or an accident, or simply through decay. Left untreated, an infected tooth will cause you severe pain and may result in an abscess in the root, which can be serious and even life-threatening.
Inside your teeth is a complex network of blood vessels and nerves, collectively known as the pulp. If it becomes infected, your dentist must clean and shape the tooth’s root canal system and treat the infection by removing any decaying tissue, cleaning it out and sealing it to stop any more bacteria getting in.
A root canal procedure won’t bring the tooth back to life, but it will stop the pain and avoid you needing to have the tooth extracted and replaced. Afterwards, the tooth will look and feel fairly normal, but it will no longer be sensitive to hot and cold.
With the correct care, the procedure shouldn’t be any more uncomfortable than having a filling.
After a consultation, x-rays will be taken to check the position and shape of roots in the tooth. Larger back teeth will have up to four canals each, all of which will need treating
The area is usually numbed with anaesthetic to make you as comfortable as possible (although sometimes this is not required)
A sheet of rubber is stretched over the tooth to keep saliva away from your tooth and protect your airway while using disinfectants and fine instruments
The dentist makes a hole in the biting surface of the tooth to get into the infected canal (or canals)
The length of the canal (s) is accurately measured, before being carefully shaped and disinfected, ready to be filled
A rubbery material is packed in to the root canal (s) to stop bacteria getting back in before a filling is placed in the tooth
A final x-ray is taken to check everything’s in order.
After root canal treatment, teeth can become brittle and may even discolour over time. In addition to a permanent filling over the treated root canal/canals, you may require a lab-constructed onlay or crown – your dentist will advise on the most appropriate treatment for you.
On average a root canal can be performed over two or three appointments, lasting around 60-90 minutes each – but this can vary hugely for very complicated procedures.
Occasionally, if a tooth is too difficult to be treated by a general dentist, your dentist may recommend referring you to an endodontist, which is a dentist that specialises, or may have a specialist interest in treating complex root canal treatments – so you’ll be in the best possible hands.
Kelvin House’s team of skilled and experienced dentists will ensure that your root canal treatment is carried out to the highest standards and with the greatest of care in the most appropriate environment.