Posted: 23 May 2011
When is endodontic (root canal) treatment necessary?
Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth and becomes necessary following permanent damage to the nerve. This usually occurs because of infection entering the tooth via decay, cracks, fractures and broken fillings. Infection may also gain access as a result of periodontal (“gum”) disease or if a tooth has suffered trauma. If this is left untreated, an abscess can develop.
Usually there is spontaneous pain, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, and tooth discolouration. Sometimes the nearby gum tissues may be swollen and tender. Occasionally, there is no pain.
There may be some pain on biting after the procedure as the healing process is activated and there is a small chance of developing a swelling afterwards. Cleaning your teeth may cause slight tenderness, but this is only temporary.
The tooth may continue to feel slightly different to your other teeth for some time after treatment.
It’s unlikely that you will have any further problems after root canal treatment. However when dealing with nature, we can’t always guarantee the outcome! The success rate of root canal treatment varies between 50-90%. The exact risks are specific to you and differ for every person.
If your tooth does become infected again, the root canal treatment can be repeated. However, repeated treatments have a lower success rate than first time treatment.
Very occasionally after root canal treatment, you will still have inflammation at the tip of your tooth. You may need to have a surgical procedure called an apicectomy to remove the root tip.
Can all teeth be treated endodontically?
Occasionally a tooth cannot be saved. Endodontic treatment can be performed only if the root canals are accessible and can be adequately cleaned and sealed. The tooth must also have enough bone support.
The root canal procedure
Your Liverpool dental clinic will usually take an X-ray first to assess the tooth and may carry out some tests before starting the treatment.
The treatment is carried out in comfort and without pain under local anaesthetic while you are awake. You are always in control and should you feel any discomfort or wish us to stop during treatment just raise your left hand and we will do so. The cause of discomfort would be immediately dealt with before continuing treatment.
When the tooth is numb, a small sheet of rubber called dental dam is placed onto your tooth, is held in place by a small clip which goes around your tooth to keep the environment as sterile as possible.
We will drill a small hole in the top of back of the tooth to locate the root canal. The treatment aims to remove the inflamed or infected nerve and carefully clean and shape the root canal. The space inside the canal is then filled and sealed.
A number of X-rays will be taken during the procedure to make sure that the cleaning and shaping has been effective and also to check the root canal filling when the treatment is complete.
How many appointments are necessary?
Sometimes endodontic therapy is completed in one appointment but usually two or three visits may be necessary.
Endodontic treatment is just the first step to restoring your tooth to health. Following the treatment, you will need to return to your usual Dentist for a crown or permanent filling to protect the tooth and to restore it to full function.
Apollonia Dental & Cosmetic Centre on Rodney Street in Liverpool offer free no obligation consultations, please call on 0151 709 9146 to arrange an appointment