Root Canal Therapy

What is root canal treatment?

Every tooth has a nerve that is housed in the centre of it. If this nerve is severely damaged it can die and the dead, dying or infected tissue must be removed with root canal therapy. If it isn’t removed an abscess or cyst may develop causing more pain and the infection can spread to the bone. If an infection is present and you want to keep the tooth, the only option is root canal therapy.

What causes root canal treatment to be needed?

There are a number of reasons why a nerve in a tooth may become inflamed and need root canal treatment. 

Some of the most common causes are:

  • A crack or a chip in a tooth
  • A deep cavity / decay
  • After excessive tooth movement with braces (rarely)
  • Extreme wear from grinding, an abrasive diet or even over-brushing
  • Gum disease
  • Repeated dental work to a tooth
  • Trauma such as a knock or breakage of a tooth

How long does root canal treatment take?

Although some root canal treatments can be completed in a single visit, usually 2 and sometimes more visits are required depending on the tooth. We need to ensure that each of the nerve canals in the affected tooth has been cleaned, and that all the infection has cleared before sealing the canals. Different teeth have a different number of canals. A back tooth (molar) will have three or four canals to treat whereas a front tooth may only have one. 

How do we treat the root canal?

First we remove the damaged and inflamed nerve from the tooth canal. The canal is then cleaned ensuring all infection and bacteria is removed. The canal is then filled with a rubbery material called gutta-percha and sealed with cement. Root canal-treated teeth are weaker (more brittle) than non-treated teeth and a crown is usually required afterwards to help strengthen the tooth. 

It is most likely that your root canal treatment will be completed by one of the experienced dental practitioners at our clinic. However, in complicated cases operating microscopes and more specialised equipment may be required and you may be referred to a specialist endodontist for completion of the treatment.

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