Saving a tooth from extraction with endodontics
Sometimes tooth decay can reach the internal structure of the tooth and cause the soft tissues inside to become infected. When this happens, root canal treatment (or endodontics) is necessary to remove the infected pulp. The pulp, which is made up of soft tissue, nerves and blood vessels, can become infected through trauma and deep fillings.
Symptoms of an infected pulp can include pain, increased sensitivity to temperature, discolouration, a metallic taste, gum tenderness or swelling.
What does root canal treatment involve?
Root canal treatments usually requires several appointments, the number will depend on which type of tooth is being treated. Between appointments, the tooth will be covered and temporarily restored.
- An x-ray will be taken to check the root canals and see if there are any other signs of infection in the surrounding bone.
- A rubber sheet is placed around the tooth to keep it dry. The infected pulp is removed under a local anaesthetic (if necessary) and root canals are flushed with an anti-bacterial solution.
- The canals are shaped with tiny instruments and washed again to remove any debris.
- The freshly cleaned root canals are then filled with a rubber compound to seal the tooth and prevent bacteria from entering.
- The filled root canal is sealed with a permanent filling or may need a crown to help restore tooth shape and functionality.
Although this treatment has a reputation for being painful, the procedure should be no more uncomfortable than having a normal filling.
Looking after your treated tooth
If looked after properly, with regular brushing and flossing, your root canal treated tooth should stay trouble-free and provide a long lasting repair. Even though the pulp has been removed, the tooth will stay intact because the canals have been sealed to prevent re-infection. Regular check-ups are also recommended so any problems can be detected early.