Root canal therapy is carried out when the nerve of the tooth has died or an infection around the end of the root of the tooth is present. An infection may be present due to tooth decay, leaky fillings or damage to the tooth from trauma. Root canal treatment is not painful and can save a tooth that might otherwise have to be removed completely.
Root canal treatment is needed when an x-ray shows the pulp (soft tissue at the centre of the tooth) has been damaged by one of the above reasons. You may feel these symptoms if the pulp has a bacterial infection:
pain when eating or drinking hot or cold food and drink
pain when biting or chewing
Leaving the infected tooth in your mouth may make it worse. There may also be less chance of the root canal treatment working if the infection within your tooth becomes established.
Root canal therapy is normally carried out over two appointments. At the first appointment, the dentist will numb the tooth and gum using a local anaesthetic and gain access to the roots by removing any old filling or decay. Each root has a nerve chamber that the dentist will access to remove any existing nerve and several different sized files will be used to clean out the root and shape ready for a permanent material to be used to seal the roots. The tooth is irrigated using a sodium chlorite solution which cleans the inside of the root surface and helps to clear any residual infection. X-rays will be taken to check the length of each root before the permanent root filling material is placed.
At the first appointment, the dentist will dress the tooth with a temporary filling material to keep the tooth free from any food debris and bacteria. At the second appointment, the dentist will re-open the tooth, again a local anaesthetic will be given. The dentist will then irrigate the roots and dry using some specific paper points before filling the roots with a rubber-based material.
A final x-ray will be taken to ensure the roots are fully filled to the correct point before a permanent filling is placed. The dentist may advise a crown on the tooth that has been root filled because as the tooth now has no blood supply it can become brittle and break so having a crown protects the tooth from this.
Root Canal Treatment: From £395 - £650