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What is root canal treatment?
Also known as endodontic treatment, root canal treatment is treatment for infection at the centre of the tooth or ‘pulp’ (Source: NHS Choices).
Why is it necessary?
Root canal treatment may be needed for a variety of reasons. For example, the pulp can become infected through tooth decay, fillings that have leaked, or tooth damage following an accident. (Source: NHS Choices).
Without treatment, an abscess may form, causing pain, and ultimately leading to the tooth being extracted. (Source: OHF).
What symptoms might suggest treatment is necessary?
Infection of the tooth’s pulp must be found on an x-ray. Symptoms include pain when eating, particularly with hot food or drink, or a loose tooth. While these symptoms may disappear if untreated, this is only because the pulp has died and the infection has moved to the rest of the root canal. Following this, further pain and symptoms such as swelling, pus and darkening of the tooth may occur.
What does root canal treatment involve?
To stop the infection, it is necessary to remove the bacteria from the root canal, before adding a filling or crown to prevent any further infection.
The surgeon will remove the infected pulp tissue, drain any abscesses that may have formed, and shape the remaining tooth to accommodate the filling or dental crown.
It’s a technical and complex piece of surgery which may require more than one visit to your dentist, or a specialist known as an endodontist.
In either case, the surgeon will remove the infected pulp tissue, plus drain any abscesses that may have formed, and the remaining tooth will be shaped in order to accommodate the filling or crown (Source: OHF).
What about aftercare?
You should take normal care of your teeth, brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and making regular visits to the dentist for check ups.
In terms of the tooth’s appearance, if discoloration should occur, techniques exist to correct this. Also, if the infection recurs, the surgery can be administered again (Source: OHF).