Root canal therapy (or endodontics) involves the removal of infected pulp from the innermost part of the tooth. This prevents the infection from spreading and can help save a tooth that may otherwise have to be extracted.
The pulp is made up of soft tissue, including nerves and blood vessels, and extends from the crown to the tips of the root. Damage to the pulp is normally caused by decay, a deep filling or trauma to the tooth. Symptoms can include pain, increased sensitivity to temperature, discolouration of the affected tooth, a metallic taste, gum tenderness or swelling.
Root canal therapy usually requires several appointments and will depend on the type of tooth being treated. When the tooth has been prepared, it will be covered and temporarily restored until the next appointment.
- The infected pulp is removed under a local anaesthetic and the root canals are flushed with an anti-bacterial solution.
- A protective apron is placed over the tooth to remove the infection from the tooth.
- The canals are expertly shaped with tiny, flexible instruments and washed again to remove any debris.
- The freshly cleaned root canals are then filled to seal the tooth and prevent bacteria from entering.
- The tooth is finally restored with a filling or crown to help restore tooth shape and functionality.
Recovering from root canal treatment
After your final treatment, your restored tooth may feel sore for a short while
Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be used to relieve any discomfort. Return to your dentist if you continue to experience pain or swelling after using painkillers.
In most cases it’s possible to prevent the need for further root canal treatment by maintaining good oral hygiene, having a low sugar diet and giving up or reducing smoking if you smoke.