What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment, also known as Endodontic treatment, is a procedure available at our dental clinic in London to treat teeth that have become inflamed or infected in the roots.
The root canal system may be challenged by infection in several ways with the most common being tooth decay, tooth trauma, or a poorly fitting restoration such as a filling or a crown. The aim of the root canal procedure is to protect the underlying bone by preventing development of bone inflammation or if already inflamed, to allow the bone to heal. Once the root canal system is disinfected, the tooth is then sealed with a restoration such as filling or a crown. This is to restore chewing function and to prevent re-infection. Where indicated, Endodontic treatment is the only means of saving your tooth. Extraction (removing the tooth) is the only other option to a root canal procedure.
The root of the tooth isn’t visible in the mouth. It sits below the visible part of the tooth – known as the crown and anchors the tooth in position. The canal system, of which a single tooth can have more than one, contains dental pulp which consists of soft tissue, nerves and blood vessels. If microorganisms challenge the pulp it will become inflamed and begin to die. This may be painful. Additionally, over time your tooth could darken in colour and in serious cases a dental abscess may form. During the early stages of infection, pain may be minimal or even non-existent. The longer you leave the infection to spread through the root canal system, the more painful it may become.
If left unattended, the infection can spread to a degree that the tooth can’t be saved and will need to be removed. Treating an infected root canal system to save the tooth is much preferable to just having it removed because it will maintain your natural smile and won’t affect your sensation, chewing and biting force. Your natural tooth (restored to health by treatment) is preferable compared to a replacement tooth such as an implant.
The success rate for root canal treatment is very high and a treated tooth will normally survive for years afterwards, in most cases for a lifetime. With advanced approaches, which include combination local anaesthetic regimes practiced by Dr Moran, root canal treatments are almost always very predictably pain free in the dental chair and otherwise shouldn’t be any more painful or uncomfortable than having a filling.
The first stage will be to see our specialist Endodontist, Dr Adi Moran for a consultation. At this appointment Dr Moran will assess your tooth and take some x-rays in order to diagnose and plan your treatment accurately. In some complex cases 3D CT imaging may be recommended for this as well, as the root canal system is a 3-dimensional network of tubules that can not always be visualised accurately on a 2-dimensional standard x-ray. The consultation is an important and integral part of your root canal treatment. Every patient is different and unique, with different expectations, past dental experiences and levels of anxiety. It’s important to hear what you have to say and answer all your questions before commencing treatment. This way the treatment as a whole can be tailored specifically to you in order to achieve a positive treatment experience.
Depending on various factors, the treatment can be done in a single session start to finish or in multiple sessions.
If carried out in multiple stages; at the first appointment the canals will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. These will then be dressed and a temporary filling placed.
For optimal accuracy, a dental operating microscope is used to view the root canal system during the treatment. In addition to this further state of the art technologies are used during your treatment to achieve optimal results.
At the second appointment the canals are filled with a root filling material, a rubber based material called Gutta Percha. The root canal system is a very complex system with many fine asymmetric irregularities three dimensionally. The Gutta-Percha is therefore compressed into the root canal system by warming it up so that it can shape itself and fit the root canal system most optimally in all three dimensions. The gutta percha then cools and solidifies forming the permanent root canal filling. After the root canal treatment has been completed, the top part of the tooth is then sealed up with a temporary restoration. You will then be referred back to your own dentist for the permanent restoration that goes on the top part of the tooth.
After root canal treatment, the tooth may become brittle. Therefore when indicated the most effective solution is to place a ceramic crown over the tooth. This is more durable and stronger than a composite filling and prevents the risk of breaking the tooth or of re-infection of the roots.
To find out more about root canal treatment, or to book an appointment at our dental clinic in London, call 020 7148 7148, email email@example.com or send us a message using the below contact form.