Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy (also called Endodontics) is a treatment used when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected through tooth decay or damaged by an injury to your mouth. This infection may spread through the root canal system, which could eventually lead to an abscess, causing a great deal of discomfort.

The bacteria that live in the mouth invades the tooth and causes infection. This can happen due to several reasons: tooth decay, leaky fillings and trauma to the teeth like a fall or other accident.

Tooth structure

There are two parts of the tooth. 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.

Infection

The pulp constitutes a soft tissue that includes nerves and blood vessels. If bacteria infects the pulp, it will begin to die. Bacteria can then multiply and spread.

The bacteria and 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.

This process will continue as there’s nothing to stop more bacteria passing down the root canal. This causes the tissues around the end of the tooth to become red and swollen. This can make your tooth painful and, in extreme cases, your face may become swollen (known as a dental abscess).

The procedure

To treat the infection in the root canal, the bacteria need to be removed. This can be done by either extracting the tooth or removing the bacteria from the root canal system. 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 be given a local anesthetic. This means the procedure should be pain-free and 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 the treatment.

Aftercare

It’s important to look after your teeth when recovering from root canal treatment.

Avoid biting on hard foods until all of your treatment is complete.

In most cases, it’s possible to prevent the need for further root canal treatment by maintaining good, consistent oral hygiene, not consuming too much sugary food and drink and long-term, by quitting smoking if applicable.