Endodontics or Root Canal Therapy is the diagnosis and treatment of symptoms or diseases affecting the pulp or nerve of the tooth.
If the pulp becomes affected by decay, injury or bacteria it may become inflamed and infected which can lead to the pulp dying off. If the infection is left untreated, it can travel down the root of the tooth and onto the jaw bone and form an abscess. This can cause considerable pain and swelling from the abscess.
In this situation, the options are either root canal therapy or extraction.
Provided the tooth otherwise has a good prognosis, root canal treatment is the favourable option in order to save the tooth. In some cases, if the pain and swelling has subsided, there is an option to do nothing and monitor the tooth. Your dental practitioner will inform you of the risks involved.
Usually root canal treatment is carried out over two appointments, some cases can be completed during one visit, others may take more, depending on the level of infection, which tooth is being treated in relation to how many canals it has and ability to access, size and shape of the roots and whether the tooth has been previously root treated.
Your dentist at Confidental Clinic will begin by administering local anaesthetic and ensuring the area is completely numb throughout the procedure. A thin cover is placed to isolate the tooth which prevents further bacteria contaminating the canal and also prevents patients consuming the products which are used during the procedure. An opening is made through the top of the tooth to gain access to the canal/s, if decay is present, this is also removed. The pulp of the tooth is removed and the canals are thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant then dried to eliminate any bacteria and infection present. During this process the canals are also shaped using tiny but specifically measured hand files or drills which allows them to be permanently filled with a material which prevents bacteria traveling down the canal.
Following root canal treatment, the tooth will be weaker, as it has no pulp or blood supply, therefore a crown is required to restore the tooth to prevent the tooth fracturing. However, immediately after treatment, your dental practitioner may only restore the tooth with a temporary or semi-permanent restoration for a period of time so that tooth can be monitored for any further symptoms before permanently restoring.
The success of root canal treatment can never be guaranteed however, following a full assessment by your treating practitioner they can advise whether a root canal treatment would have a good prognosis and provided there are no complications during treatment and subsequent restoration, long-term success is overall high.
Should a root canal treatment fail, there can be the option of a re-root treatment. Your dentist may advise that a Specialist Endodontist referral would be recommended for the best possible outcome. There are other reasons why your dentist may also recommend a Specialist Endodontist, including if the roots of the tooth are curved or sclerosed (closed), an instrument has splintered in the canal or perforated the canal from a previous treatment or if it is a back tooth and access is difficult. Specialist Endodontists use specialist equipment including a microscope which benefits all of these situations.
We are fortunate to have a Specialist Endodontist practicing at our practice in Clapham Junction who can see you for a further consultation and treatment using specialist equipment. Your dentist at ConfiDental Clinic, will discuss these options with you when planning your treatment.