A Root Canal Treatment (also known as Endodontics) is required when the core or nerve of the tooth becomes infected, or decay has spread within the tooth. In most cases, you will not feel any pain during the early stages of infection, although the tooth may discolour. Treatment is key as early as possible to prevent future pain or loss of the tooth – typically reacting sooner means less work overall as we are able to prevent the infection from spreading.
For more information on how we identify issues such as internal tooth decay please see Oral Care for information on our comprehensive check-ups that address current pain as well as identifying preventive care.
What is a root canal?
Inside each tooth is a core of blood vessels and nerves, which are inside a space we call the root canal. Typically front teeth only have one root canal whereas the back teeth have 3 or more root canals.
If your tooth is injured or has deep decay the vessels and nerves inside the root canal may become infected, or exposed. Symptoms usually involve pain, throbbing, toothache, sensitivity, and in some cases no symptoms at all. For this reason, we recommend a comprehensive assessment with digital X rays, to identify the potential root or nerve problems.
Once this happens the tooth ‘dies’ and infection and bacteria spread further usually causing long-term pressure and pain.
The rate of infection spreading will dictate how soon you will feel the symptoms (pain, pressure or even nausea and fever) but we recommend dealing with any decay or infection as soon as possible to prevent longer-term problems – such as infection spreading to other nearby tissues.
Do I have to get a root canal treatment – are there any alternatives?
Each case is different – it depends on the level of pain the tooth is causing, where the root canal is and the likelihood of infection impacting other tissues.
Sometimes antibiotics can be used to treat the effects of the problem but not the cause, therefore only a temporary solution. We sometimes recommend this when patients cannot spare the time for a root canal for a week or so, or if there is swelling.
However, typically once the nerve of the tooth is infected or damaged, root canal treatment is the only way to save the tooth.
If the tooth is symptom-free, it can be left untreated if preferred, however, we typically recommend dealing with problems as soon as possible. We would rather know you only need ‘routine maintenance’ than know we will face more pain or other complications (such as forced extraction of the tooth) in the longer term.
What does a root canal involve?
At Bespoke Smile we have invested in the latest innovations in the dental world and our experienced dentists are able to deliver a simple and painless procedure.
This involves removing infected tissue and filling the root canal to prevent further infections from occurring. This is typically completed in a single visit, but depending on the complexity of the root canal it can be split into 2 visits to ensure your comfort and care throughout.
All the instruments and materials we use to perform this procedure are known for their ease of application and efficiency. At Bespoke Smile, we only use rotating root canal equipment, which is shown to be the most effective, and quick, way of cleaning the tooth. We always try to ensure the utmost comfort for example by having the music of your choice on in the background – please let us know if there’s anything we can do to prepare and ensure your comfort.
Can root canal treatment fail?
Our expert dentists will never begin a root canal treatment that they aren’t confident they can complete to an incredibly high standard.
To ensure success we insist on very thorough assessments and consultations – it significantly improves success rates – which for first-time root canal treatment is over 90%. As an example, this typically highlights the need for a dental crown on back teeth to ensure the entire root is filled.
Unfortunately, there can be some rare instances where root canal treatments fail due to the current structure of the tooth (or very occasionally) a lack of aftercare. However, on these occasions, we can typically perform an apicectomy to save the tooth or replace the tooth using dental implants, or other options.
For more information
If you are concerned that you may need a root canal or simply want a second opinion – please call us. We’re always happy to provide information based on our best practice approach and expertise.
Page last updated and checked by Dr Sam Jethwa: August 17, 2020