Root Canal Treatment
When is Root Canal treatment needed?
Root canal treatment is only required when dental X-rays show that the pulp has been damaged by a bacterial infection. The pulp will begin to die if it’s infected by bacteria, allowing the bacteria to then multiply and spread.
The symptoms of a pulp infection include:
- Pain when eating or drinking hot or cold food and drink.
- Pain when biting or chewing.
- A loose tooth
As the infection progresses, these symptoms often disappear as the pulp dies. Your tooth then appears to have healed, but the infection has in fact spread through the root canal system.
You eventually get further symptoms such as:
- Pain when biting or chewing returning.
- Swelling of the gum near the affected tooth.
- Pus oozing from the affected tooth.
- Facial swelling.
- The tooth becoming a darker colour.
It’s important to see your dentist if you develop toothache. If your tooth is infected, the pulp cannot heal by itself. 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.
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Why is Root Canal treatment needed?
The infection at the centre of a tooth (the root canal) is caused by bacteria that lives in the mouth and invade the tooth. This can happen after:
- Tooth decay.
- Leaky fillings.
- Damage to teeth as a result of trauma, such as a fall.
How is Root Canal treatment carried out?
To treat the infection in the root canal, the bacteria need to be removed.
This can be done by either:
- Removing the bacteria from the root canal system (root canal treatment).
- Removing the tooth (extraction).
Removing the tooth is not usually recommended as it’s better to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible.
After the bacteria has been removed, the root canal is filled and the tooth sealed with a filling or crown. In most cases the inflamed tissue near the tooth will heal naturally.
Before having root canal treatment, you’ll usually be given a local anesthetic This means the procedure should be painless and no more unpleasant than having a filling. Root canal treatment is usually successful. In about 9 out of 10 cases a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment.