When is it needed?
Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the nerve of your tooth or its blood supply (the pulp) has been infected through decay or injury. An infection in the pulp can cause an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which pus collects, and its symptoms range from a dull ache to a severe pain.
If root canal treatment is not carried out, the infection will spread and your tooth may need to be taken out.
What is involved?
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal and stop the infection from spreading to the jaw bone. The root is then cleaned and filled to allow it to heal and prevent further infection.
Root canal treatment is a skilled, precise and time-consuming procedure. Several appointments may be needed.
At your first appointment, the infected pulp is removed and any abscesses are drained. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped so it is ready for filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle.
On your second visit, the tooth is checked again to make sure the infection has cleared and then it is permanently filled.
Is it painful?
Not normally, though very occasionally it can be.. A local anaesthetic is used to numb up your jaw and so it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. However when a tooth is extremely painful it may be difficult to get total pain control, we do use every technique to minimise discomfort.
What if I don’t have treatment?
The alternative is to take the tooth out. The reason is that once the nerve is destroyed, it can’t heal and we would never recommend leaving an infected tooth in the mouth. Although some people might prefer an extraction, and we will discuss your options with you, we would recommend keeping as many of your natural teeth as possible.