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Root Canal Treatment

What is Root Canal Treatment (endodontics)

Root canal treatment is a means of saving a tooth that has been damaged by deep decay, breakage, or infection. The purpose of treatment is to restore the tooth to good health so that it can function properly inside your mouth. An endodontist is a specialist in root canal treatment.

Why should a tooth need to be root treated?

Deep inside every tooth is a pulp chamber and root canals that contain living tissue called the pulp. The pulp is often mistakenly referred to as the ‘nerve’, but in fact it contains a fine network of tissue fibres, nerves, and blood vessels. If a large cavity in a tooth reaches the pulp chamber, or if a tooth breaks, bacteria can reach the pulp. These bacteria damage the pulp and eventually destroy it. The root canals become infected and inevitably an abscess forms beneath the root of the tooth, in the jawbone.

How is a root canal treatment done?

The purpose of the treatment is to remove the bacteria from inside the tooth and to disinfect the root canals. This is achieved by making a small hole through the tooth into the pulp chamber, locating and measuring the root canals, then cleaning and widening them using fine instruments called files. Once clean, the canals are filled to seal them from re-infection. In most cases an abscess will start to heal at this point.

How long does treatment take?

This can vary according to the complexity of the root canals, or if re-treatment is being carried out. Initial consultations are usually made for half an hour. A follow-up appointment of between one to two hours may be required. On some occasions it may be possible to complete treatment in one extended appointment.

Is it painful?

NO. Local anaesthesia is used throughout the procedure. With modern anaesthetic solutions, every possible step is taken to ensure that you are comfortable while the work is carried out. Following treatment there is the possibility of discomfort from the area. This is usually minor, and does not last long.

Is success guaranteed?

Root canal treatment does enjoy a high level of success. However, it should be remembered that it is impossible to guarantee the success of any medical procedure.

Even with the very best treatment, equipment and magnification, healing may not occur due to circumstances beyond the control of the clinician. Should this occur further steps might need to be taken to eradicate the infection.

Are a large number of x-rays taken?

The only way to ascertain what is happening inside and underneath teeth is through the use of x-rays. Radiographs taken inside the mouth are of minimal dose and pose virtually no danger. To further reduce the risk, the practice has invested in the very latest digital x-ray system, which reduces the already small radiation dose by a further 80%. This means that for the same dose of one traditional dental film, five digital x-rays can be taken.

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