Kenilworth Dental Practice

Root Canal Treatment

E-mail Print PDF

Root canal treatment (root filling) is required when a tooth dies. Teeth are made up of enamel, (the hard outer covering) dentine (the softer inner layer) and in the centre of the tooth the pulp. In a healthy tooth pulp contains living tissue as well as the tooth's blood and nerve supply, and extends down the root of the tooth through a small opening called the apex and into the jawbone.

Teeth die for a number of reasons, including trauma, treatment and toothwear. When the pulp tissue dies it usually becomes infected and forms a dental abscess. Dental abscesses can be extremely painful and also involve acute swelling, but they can also be dormant and symptom free for long periods of time.

Root canal treatment, also known as root fillings or endodontics, involves removal of the dead infected pulp tissue, disinfection of the root canal and then filling the space with a special rubber based material. Treatment is usually carried out over one or two visits, but a heavily infected tooth may require additional treatment.

What will we do?

  • Firstly your dentist will take a dental radiograph; this will show your dentist how many roots the tooth has and the level of infection present.

  • You will be given a local anaesthetic, even though the tooth is dead without local anaesthesia the treatment may be uncomfortable. Once the anaesthetic has taken full effect an opening is made through the top of the tooth ensuring that all decayed tooth tissue has been removed, and accessing the pulp chamber.

  • The dentist will then place a thin sheet of rubber on a frame over your tooth, this isolates the tooth from the rest of your mouth protecting you from the medicaments used to clean the root canal and keeping you as comfortable as possible. This procedure is called rubber dam.

  • The dentist then uses small instruments called files to remove the dead pulp tissue from the root canal(s). Your dentist will also irrigate the canal(s) with sodium hypochlorite to disinfect them. Your dentist will then measure and record the length of the canal(s). If the dentist is happy that all the infected tissue is removed and the canal(s) are clean and dry, he / she will fill the canal(s) using a rubber based material called gutta percha then fill the access cavity with a suitable filling material. If the dentist feels the tooth is not clear of infection he/she will dress the canal(s) with an antibacterial dressing and place a temporary filling. A second appointment will then be scheduled to complete the treatment.

Once teeth have been root filled they become brittle and are more prone to fractures and splitting; they can also darken. The latest research recommends that teeth should be crowned following root canal treatment in order to strengthen and protect the remaining tooth tissue, and prevent splitting or fractures.

In some cases, when a tooth has very curved roots for example it may be necessary to refer you to a Specialist Endodontist, who will examine and treat the tooth under magnification.

You are here: Root Canal Treatment

Latest News and Blog Posts