Root canal treatment is required when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected or inflamed. This is caused by bacteria. The bacteria can gain entry into the root canal from decay, cracks or any trauma to the tooth and it can lead to symptoms such as sensitivity to hot and cold and tenderness to biting, however sometimes no symptoms can occur
If the root is not cleaned and disinfected it can lead to a worsening infection and possible loss of the tooth. The aim of root canal treatment is firstly to remove the bacteria and any inflamed or infected tissue and secondly to fill the root so future infection does not occur. It usually takes one or two visits. Unfortunately antibiotics will not resolve the problem..
You may need endodontic treatment if your tooth has decay to the nerve, or if you have suffered trauma to the teeth. When teeth are traumatised the nerve usually dies.
This can cause pain but sometimes you may not be aware of anything. An x-ray of the tooth usually diagnoses whether root canal treatment is required or not. Sometimes infection can get to the nerve of the tooth from gum disease.
If the tooth is left you will get an abscess beneath the tooth. This will lead to pain, swelling and may cause bone loss around the tooth. This can lead to tooth extraction.
The treatment can take from 1-2 hours and there may be a need for more then one visit depending on the tooth being treated and the extent of the infection. Root treatment is carried out under local anaesthetic and is a comfortable painless process. There may be post operative discomfort but this is usually controlled with the use of painkillers.
The success rate of root canal treatment varies from 85-95%. This depends on many factors such as the extent of infection, response of the individual to treatment, possible complications such as the presence of root cracks/fractures.
After root canal treatment, your tooth will need restoring. If you do not have it restored your tooth could crack. The best restoration after root canal treatment is a dental crown or inlay / onlay