A tooth is made up of two parts. The crown is the part of the tooth that’s visible in the mouth. The root extends into the bone of the jaw, anchoring the tooth in position. The root canal system contains the dental pulp and extends from the crown of the tooth to the end of the root. A single tooth can have more than one root canal.
Dental pulp is made up of soft tissue that includes nerves and blood vessels. The pulp will begin to die if it is infected by bacteria which can multiply and spread. The substances they release will eventually pass out of the end of the root canal through the small hole where the blood vessels and nerves enter and cause infection which can cause the tissues around the end of the tooth to become inflamed and swollen. This can make your tooth feel painful and, in extreme cases your face may become swollen (this also known as a dental abscess).
To treat the infection in the root canal the bacteria needs to be removed. This can be done by either removing the tooth (extraction) or attempting to save it by removing the bacteria from the root canal system (root canal treatment).
After the bacteria have been removed, the root canal will be filled and the tooth sealed with a filling or crown. In most cases, the inflamed tissue at the end of the tooth will heal naturally.
Before having root canal treatment, you will usually be given a local anaesthetic which is administered by a simple injection into the gum around the tooth. This means the procedure should not be painful, and should be 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.
Benefits of root canal treatment from FHDC
- Our dentists will always try and save your tooth if possible.
- We use the best endodontic equipment & materials to provide root canal treatment
- 9 times out of 10 a tooth will survive root canal treatment
- Our dentists are used to providing this treatment and will make it as comfortable as possible
How long does root canal treatment take?
The root canal treatment is often split into 2 x 45 minute appointments. The first appointment is usually required to clean out the root canal and ‘temporise’ it to ensure that it is free of infection. The second appointment allows the dentist to fill (& crown if required) the tooth.
How is the pulp removed?
Your dentist will place a rubber sheet (known as a rubber dam) around the tooth to ensure it is kept dry during treatment. This also stops you from swallowing any of the dental materials that the dentist uses.
Your dentist will open your tooth through the crown (the flat part at the top) to access the soft tissue at the centre of the tooth (pulp). They will then remove any infected pulp that remains.
If you have a dental abscess your dentist will be able to drain this it at the same time.
How is the root cleaned & filled?
After the pulp has been removed your dentist will clean and enlarge the root canal so it can be easily filled. The root canal is usually very narrow which makes it difficult to fill.
Your dentist will use a series of small files to enlarge the canals and make them a regular shape so they can be easily filled. Depending of the structure of your tooth, this part of the treatment may take up to several hours to complete and may need to be carried out over a number of visits.
Why do some root canal treatments take longer than others?
Your front incisor and canine teeth usually have a single root containing one root canal. The premolars and back molar teeth have two or three roots, each containing either one or two root canals. The more roots a tooth has, the longer the treatment will take to complete.
If the treatment needs to be carried out over several sessions, your dentist may put a small amount of medication in the cleaned canal to kill any remaining bacteria. The tooth will then be sealed using a temporary filling.
How is the tooth filled?
At your final visit the temporary filling and medication within the tooth will be removed and the root canal filling will be inserted. A filling will seal the tooth and prevent re-infection.
Root filled teeth are more likely to break than healthy unrestored teeth. Your dentist may suggest placing a dental crown on the tooth to protect it.
In some cases a root filled tooth may darken, particularly if it has died due to an injury such as a knock to the tooth. There are several ways your dentist can treat discolouration such as whitening the tooth using teeth whitening.
Will I need antibiotics?
If you have symptoms from the infection such as a raised temperature or large swelling, you may be given antibiotics to help manage and prevent further infection.
Get in touch
To discuss how Far Headingley Dental Care can provide you with root canal treatment, please complete the enquiry form on this page or call our practice on 0113 275 1323 during normal office hours.