Occasionally the inner soft pulp of your tooth may become infected. In this case, it may be necessary to have root canal treatment.
Root canal treatment is the removal of the damaged inner tooth. It is only required when x-rays show that the pulp of the tooth has been damaged by bacteria.
Root canal treatment is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic. Your dentist will place a rubber sheet around the tooth to keep it dry during the treatment, and to stop you from swallowing any of the chemicals used.
Your dentist will open the tooth from the top to access the infected pulp. After the pulp has been removed, your dentist will clean the hole and apply an antibiotic medicine, and then insert a temporary filling. At the next visit, the filling and medicine will be removed, and the root canal filling will be inserted to seal the tooth and prevent reinfection. Your dentist will may suggest that a crown should be fitted to prevent reinfection.
Root canal treatment is usually successful at saving the tooth and clearing infection, but can sometimes fail and success cannot be guaranteed.
It is important to keep your teeth clean by practising good oral hygiene, especially for the treated tooth. Your dentist will be able to advise you further.
Root canal treatment is one of the most technical treatments that dentists carry out. There are many reasons why root canal treatment on a particular tooth can be deemed ‘complicated’ and sometimes the dentist can predict this. If your dentist feels the tooth is saveable but the case is challenging, they may discuss the option of having the root canal treatment carried out by a specialist. Specialists are sometimes referred to as ‘endodontists’ who have carried out further post-graduate training in root canal treatment.