Root Canal Treatment
Root canal or endodontic treatment is designed to save an infected tooth from extraction. The aim is to save a tooth in which the nerve or blood supply has been infected by decay, crack, leaking filling or dental trauma.
How do I know if I require root canal treatment?
If you are experiencing severe tooth pain you may be in need of a root canal. Facial swelling / abscess or swelling of the gum adjacent to the tooth is also a tell-tale sign.
Other symptoms include lingering pain when biting on the tooth and with heat and progressive discolouration of the tooth.
Your dentist will closely examine the tooth and take an x-ray to see what is happening under your gum. Vitality tests are conducted, along with investigation of your specific signs and symptoms and to determine whether a root canal treatment is the most appropriate treatment.
Sometimes, curiously, there may be no symptoms from an infected tooth that you are aware of. This is where regular dental check-ups with X-Rays are important in order to identify and treat such teeth before they give rise to symptoms.
What to expect:
There is a lot of misconception and concern about root canal treatment which is a common procedure and quite painless. In nearly all cases the experience does not feel too different from routine restorative work once the tooth has been numbed.
All root canals in the affected tooth must be treated. The front teeth (incisors and canines) and premolars typically have one or two root canals. Molars usually have three or four. Root canal treatment may be done over a number of visits, typically two or three.
The tooth will be completely numbed and your dentist will place a sheet of rubber (called a rubber dam) over the tooth to keep it dry and sterile. It will allow you to swallow comfortably whilst keeping the tooth dry and clean. An opening will be made in the top of the tooth and the infected pulp or 'nerve' will be cleaned from the root canals. The canals will be sterilized and shaped for filling. Antibiotic dressing will usually be placed inside the tooth to kill all the bacteria prior to sealing the canals. Biocompatible material, called "gutta percha" and sealant will then be used to fill the root canals completely. A temporary filling will be used prior to the final restoration of the tooth (e.g. using a crown)
We have invested heavily in the latest techniques, instruments, and equipment. For your peace of mind, our nickel titanium rotary instruments are used just for you and our hand files are single use only.
After your tooth has been successfully treated, your dentist will place a permanent restoration, most often a crown, especially when a large amount of your natural tooth structure has been lost. Crowns replace missing tooth structure and support the remaining tooth, minimising future cracks and premature tooth loss. In some cases where there has been extensive damage to the natural tooth structure, a post may be required to aid in the retention of the crown.
Is there an alternative to endodontic treatment?
The only alternative method of removing the infection is to extract your tooth. Then if you do not have the tooth replaced with an artificial one, the adjoining teeth will shift, interfering with biting and chewing pattern. Loss of a tooth may lead to other complex including gum disease, decay of other teeth, jaw joint and jaw muscle problems.
Replacing your tooth, which may have been saved through root canal therapy, with an artificial tooth often involves more complex, time consuming and costly treatment, such as implants.
Also, the replacement may be less efficient in chewing and biting (e.g denture) or it may involve treatment of your adjacent teeth (in cases of a bridge).
Saving a tooth whenever possible is always the ideal option. Your natural teeth are far more efficient in chewing and biting than an artificial tooth, which is why endodontic treatment is undertaken.
How long will root canal treatment last?
Most root canal-treated teeth last as long as other natural teeth. In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment does not heal or the pain continues. Further treatment (e.g. root end surgery) may be necessary. If the tooth is crowned soon after completion of treatment, then the tooth should last many years. The success rate is around 90% over 5years.