Endodontic (root canal) treatment

At Freshwater Dental we believe in the importance of preserving a tooth rather than removing it. In the past if a tooth was badly damage or infected, removal was often the solution. However thanks to technological improvements, endodontic treatment is now a common and safe procedure that has allowed many to maintain their natural teeth.

Endodontic treatment (also known as root canal treatment) involves removing the inflamed or infected pulp from a tooth and building the tooth back up with a filling. Dental pulp is the soft tissue within the tooth that is made up of blood vessels and nerves. The pulp runs from the top of each tooth and down through to the roots. Dental pulp may become infected or inflamed as a result of serious tooth decay, traumatic damage such as a crack, chip or root fracture or even as a result for repeated dental treatment on the same tooth. When this happens, the pulp needs to be removed. If left untreated, the tissues surrounding the tooth may also become infected leading to further pain, swelling and a possible abscess. The toxins from the bacteria may also begin to destroy the bone that surrounds the tooth, which may then result in tooth loss.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms with vary from patient to patient but often include:

  • Tooth pain
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold liquids and foods.
  • Tenderness when chewing or to touch
  • Discolouration of the tooth
  • An abscess on the gum line
  • Inflamed or swollen gum tissue surrounding the tooth.

If you are experiencing all or any of these symptoms it is important to book an appointment with your dentist as early detection can help decrease the amount of tooth that will need to be removed and increase the success rate of the treatment.

What is involved in the procedure?

Endodontic treatment will normally take two appointments but may take more if the tooth is significantly damaged. Once the tooth has been assessed, an opening is made in the top of the tooth to give the dentist access and from here they will remove all of the decay and tooth pulp. In order to remove the pulp from the roots, they will use a very thin surgical instrument called an endodontic file. With this file they will also shape the root canals so that they can be properly filled to prevent any further infection. The area is then sterilised and filled with a white filling which will strengthen the tooth and help prevent further infection.

If the infection is quite severe, your dentist may have to remove a significant amount of tooth. If this is the case then they may recommend a crown which will help restore the tooth and prevent it from cracking.

After treatment it is essential that you maintain good oral health practices and attend regular dental appointments. This will ensure the longevity of your treatment and help prevent future problems.

Is treatment painful?

There are many negative connotations associated with root canal treatment when in fact most patients experience little to no pain. There may be some discomfort however this is often a result of the infection rather than the treatment itself. Many people put off getting dental treatment as they are worried about the pain but it is important to treat the infection early in order to achieve the best outcome and save the tooth structure. If you are concerned about the pain it is important to discuss this with your dentist so that they can work with you to develop the best treatment method.

If you are experiencing tooth pain or notice that your tooth is looking discoloured please call our friendly reception team to book your next appointment.