Root Canal Therapy - Endodontics
Root canal therapy,(endodontic treatment), is required for teeth that have an infected or injured dental pulp, ('nerve').
Treatment involves the removal of the infected soft tissue from within the tooth to prevent or treat a more serious spreading infection.
The disinfected space within the tooth is then sealed to prevent reinfection.
This is often called a root filling.
The soft tissue inside a tooth is called the dental pulp. The main role of the dental pulp is involved in the development of the tooth during childhood. A fully formed tooth can function normally without a dental pulp.
The most common cause of infection is deep dental decay. Bacteria enter the pulp chamber and travel down the canals and into the surrounding bone. This can cause an abscess, a collection of pus in the bone. You may not even notice that you have an abscess.
The dental pulp may also be injured by an accident, excessive grinding, cracked teeth or severe wear and attrition or abrasion of the tooth.
Simply placing a filling will not resolve the infection as the bacteria have travelled down the root canal system.
The infection within the tooth must be removed.
Antibiotics do not solve the problem. They may help with the infection in the tissues surrounding the tooth but the bacteria will remain inside the tooth and spread outside again when antibiotic therapy ceases.
Extraction of the tooth will remove the infection but the tooth is then lost.
Endodontic therapy, (root canal), involves the removal of the infected tissue whilst retaining the tooth.
Root canal therapy involves careful removal of infected tissue from within the entire pulp canal system. These canals are very fine, often fractions of a millimetre in diameter.
During the procedure your tooth is isolated with a thin sheet of rubber called a rubber dam. This prevents anything from falling into your mouth and keeps the pulp canals clean during the procedure.
Local anaesthesia ensures that this is a comfortable procedure.
In some cases discomfort may be experienced for several days after completion. This is usually managed with analgesics.
Sealing of the root canals is the final stage. This prevents reinfection of the canals.
The tooth usually requires a high strength restoration such as a crown to reduce the risk of fracture of the tooth.
How much does root canal therapy cost? This varies depending on the number of canals involved and the complexity of your individual tooth. A back tooth usually has 2, 3 or 4 canals while a front tooth usually only has 1 or sometimes 2 canals.
It is usually more expensive to extract the tooth and replace it with an artificial tooth.
How successful is root canal therapy?