Root canal treatment (or endodontics) is required when there is an infection deep within your tooth. The blood or nerve supply may be infected either due to an injury or a severe cavity. You may not experience any pain or discomfort during the early stages of an infection, however if your tooth changes colour and darkens that is a sign that your tooth nerve is in danger of dying. If left untreated, this kind of infection can not only be very painful, but can lead to a tooth abscess or even tooth loss.
Root canal treatment removes all of the infection from the tooth, before sealing the tooth to protect the damaged nerve and restore you back to good oral health. When you first come into Hughes & Owen Dental Care we will take an x-ray to assess the status of the infection. Then a local anaesthesia is administered to the area and a piece of rubber material called a ‘rubber dam’ is placed around the tooth the keep it dry and accessible throughout the procedure.
Once you are fully anaesthetised, your dentist will use specially designed tools to remove the infected tissue. Once it is clear, a rubber compound is used to fill the tooth where the root canal tissue previously was. This is usually finished with a temporary filling. This is the completed stage of your first visit to Hughes & Owen Dental Care. Following this, we create a custom-made crown to fit your tooth and this is fitted at your second visit.
The visible part of your tooth, above the gumline is called the ‘crown’. Below the gum, fixing the tooth to the jaw, is the ‘root’ of your tooth. The root canal system is a network that fills a central hollow area inside the tooth and down to the roots. Root canals are filled with loose connective tissue called ‘dental pulp’ and they are responsible for nourishing and hydrating the tooth, as well as reacting to hot and and cold.
When an infection takes hold, it is this pulp which becomes inflamed, which is why it may be painful to eat or drink. Eventually a bacterial infection will cause the pulp to die. It is important to see your dentist if you are experiencing toothache, as the infection will not go away of its own accord and antibiotics cannot be used to treat a root canal infection.
If left untreated, a deep infection can spread through the whole root canal system of your tooth. In this case, the pain may subside, as the infection will have removed all of the pulp.
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