Endodontic treatment treats the chamber inside of the tooth. It is commonly known as Root canal treatment.
Inside a tooth, beneath the hard enamel and dentine, is a soft tissue called the pulp within a chamber extending the full length of the roots. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
Why would I need an endodontic procedure?
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This may occur due to a deep cavity, repeated dental treatment or a cracked tooth from trauma. If the inflammation or infection is left it may cause pain or an abscess.
What are the signs of needing endodontic treatment?
Often a patient will present with acute pain from a tooth including prolonged sensitivity to a hot or cold stimulus and the problematic tooth tender when chewing or to touch. In severe cases there may also be a swelling around the tooth. However sometimes there are no symptoms.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
Root canal treatment aims to remove the inflamed or infected pulp by carefully cleaning and shaping the inner chamber and roots. The root space created is then filled and sealed and a bonded restoration or crown is then placed to prevent reinfection.
Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
The aim of an endodontic procedure is to relieve pain. With modern anaesthetics and techniques the procedure should be relatively painless. You should feel no more than when having a filling placed.
Following treatment mild discomfort may be experienced but this is usually managed well with non-prescriptions analgesics and anti-inflammatories. However, if you have severe pain or pressure lasting more than a few days, call the practice for further advice.
Step-by-Step Endodontic Procedure
Typically we are able to perform treatment in one appointment but occasionally a second visit may be required.
The tooth is first examined clinically in the mouth and by x-ray. Local anaesthetic is then provided to ensure the tooth is numb. A rubber sheet is placed over the tooth to isolate it and make the treatment more comfortable without having to swallow any materials or water during treatment.
2. An opening in the centre of the tooth is made and very small instruments are used to clean the chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.
3. The root canals are then filled with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha with a paste sealant. In most cases, a permanent filling is then placed to close the opening.
4. An x-ray picture is taken to confirm the complete root system has been correctly filled. A year follow up x-ray is often also required to confirm a successful outcome to treatment.
5. A crown or other bonded restoration is then usually indicated to protect and restore the tooth to its full function.
If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration a post may be placed inside the tooth.
Will the tooth need any special care or additional treatment after endodontic treatment?
When performed to a high standard Endodontic treatment has a very high success rate. Many root canal-treated teeth will last a lifetime with proper after care. Following treatment regular daily care to maintain a healthy mouth and ensure longevity of any dental work should be maintained including regular oral health checks.
Most endodontically treated teeth can last as long as other natural teeth. However In a few cases, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment may not heal or symptoms may continue.
Occasionally, there may be a return of symptoms months or even years after successful treatment. When this occurs redoing the endodontic procedure can often be done.
Can all teeth be treated endodontically?
The majority of teeth are suitable to be treated. On occasions the root canals system is not accessible however this is rare especially when using a Dental microscope to aid visualisation.
If a tooth does not have sufficient structure left to be restored, has a fracture to its root systems or insufficient bone support then a root treatment may not be suitable and alternative treatment options may be more advisable.
Alternatives to Root Treatments?
Research has proven that endodontic treatment and dental implants are equally successful. Therefore, it makes sense to start by trying to save your natural tooth – nothing looks, feels or functions like it. If, for whatever reason, healing does not occur, then treatment with a dental implant is an excellent backup plan.