Frequently Asked Questions
What is endodontics/root canal treatment? Why would I need it?
Endodontics is a recognised speciality by the General Dental Council, involving the diagnosis and treatment of the internal part of the tooth, called the dental pulp. The pulp is a tissue made up of nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels. Bacteria that gain access into the pulp chamber (the root canal) as a result of tooth decay, periodontal disease, trauma or other problems, can severely damage the pulp. The inflamed pulp may cause toothache or remain pain-free. When this happens, root canal treatment is carried out to remove the diseased pulp to save the tooth and prevent further infection and inflammation.
Is it painful?
With modern techniques and anaesthetics, most patients find the procedure very comfortable during and after the treatment. Some patients may experience sensitivity in the days following the treatment, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure, but this is easily soothed with standard painkillers. Root canal treatment is an extremely effective way to alleviate on-going dental pain.
How is root canal treatment carried out?
- Your dentist will examine and x-ray your tooth before the procedure and explain the prognosis to you.
- A local anaesthetic is then applied to the area to be treated (the same as would be given for a routine filling).
- The endodontist will then place a protective sheet called a ‘dental dam’ over the tooth to keep it dry, isolated and prevent bacteria and saliva from infecting the root being treated.
- The pulp chamber of the tooth is accessed by drilling a small opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean and shape the root canal for filling.
- Your endodontist will wash out the canal frequently to clean out any debris.
- Once the canal is cleaned and shaped, a biocompatible material called ‘gutta percha’ is used to fill it. This is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure a complete seal of the area.
- The endodontist will then close the opening in the tooth with a permanent/temporary filling to seal the tooth and prevent re-infection.
Our referral team are members of the British Endodontic Society (BES). For information about the British Endodontic Society please see www.britishendodonticsociety.org
Here a young patient lost the health of the pulp in a front tooth after trauma. Root canal treatment was performed to maintain the tooth in a healthy state.
This adult patient developed pain in a lower molar tooth. A diagnosis of pulp inflammation (pulpitis) was made, and endodontic treatment carried out. The patient’s pain was resolved immediately.
This patient had received root canal treatment before, but technical deficiencies had caused failure, and recurrence of infection. The root canal treatment was re-done to a high standard, and the six month follow up shows a tooth that has healed, and has been crowned by the patient's own dentist.