Our teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Sometimes, however, damage occurs to a tooth (often from a deep cavity or a traumatic injury that causes a tooth to crack) causing the inside of the tooth to become infected. This infection damages the pulp of the tooth – the network of blood vessels and nerves inside.
Left untreated, the damaged pulp causes infection that will damage the bone around the tooth and cause swelling and pain. Endodontic treatment (also called Root Canal Therapy) can often save it.
Endodontic treatment involves opening the tooth, removing the damaged pulp, cleaning, shaping, filling and sealing the tooth. The tooth may then be protected with a cap in order to protect it from future harm.
Your dentist will usually perform multiple diagnostic tests and determine if Root Canal treatment is appropriate. More difficult cases can also be referred to a specialist by your dentist.
Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most treatment courses involve two or more visits to your dentist.
At the initial appointment, the infected pulp is removed and any abscesses can be drained. This will take you out of pain. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle. The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is definitively filled.
Root treated teeth should be looked after the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste. Cut down on sugary foods and drinks, and have them only at mealtimes if possible. See your dental team as often as they recommend for regular check-ups.