Endodontics - Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy (or endodontics) is a specialist dental procedure to treat infection inside a tooth.
Bacteria that normally live in the mouth can sometimes invade a tooth due to injury, cracks, faulty fillings, or tooth decay. The bacteria can cause an infection of the living tissue (pulp) which is contained within a space called the root canal.
Why is root canal therapy necessary?
The pulp inside a tooth consists of soft tissue, including nerves and blood vessels. If the pulp is damaged, blood vessels may die. And a “dead” tooth is prone to infection.
Without treatment, the infection may spread down the root canal and tissues around the end of the tooth can become red and swollen. The tooth itself becomes painful and, in some cases, a dental absess (collection of pus) may form. As well as experiencing pain, patients may suffer from nausea, fever and have difficulty swallowing.
Warning signs & symptoms?
Your tooth might need root canal treatment if:
What are the alternatives to root canal therapy?
If the tooth is free from pain and other symptoms then it can be left untreated. However, there will always be a risk of future pain and even tooth loss.
If the nerve of a tooth is infected or damaged, root canal therapy is the only means of saving the tooth. Antibiotics can only treat the infection – not the cause of the problem.
If the tooth is seriously damaged by decay or injury, or the support of the tooth is compromised by gum disease, then it may be better to remove the tooth. We can then replace the tooth with a denture, bridge or dental implant.
What does root canal therapy involve?
At Mona Lisa Smiles, our endodontic specialists aim to provide painless treatment in either one or two visits – for nervous patients we will provide sedation.
First, the decay and infection must be removed from the tooth. We then fill the root canal and seal the tooth with a filling or a crown to restore and protect the tooth from fracture.
It takes 1 – 4 hours for the numbness from the anaesthetic to wear off. We advise you not to have any hot drinks during this period.
It is normal to have some pain and discomfort after treatment. For instance, you may experience throbbing around the tooth and some tenderness when eating for the first 48 hours.
However, should discomfort persist longer than two days, we would advise patients to contact us.