Root Canal Treatment – Dentistry Simplified
If you’re not from a dental background, being recommended root canal therapy could seem daunting as you may not be sure what it entails or why it is being done. In this blog, we’ll explain why you may need a root canal, what is involved and what benefits it has. Your dentist will also explain the reasons for the treatment and how it is performed during your initial appointment and will be available to answer any questions you may have.
Why might I need root canal treatment?
Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic treatment, is needed when the pulp of the tooth (the blood/nerve supply) becomes infected through things such as tooth decay or an injury.
- You may not feel any pain during the early stages of infection.
- In some cases your tooth may darken in colour, which could mean that the nerve (blood supply to the tooth) is dying.
- It’s important to know that you may not have any symptoms in the early stages of infection, so it’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to tooth decay.
If the pulp of the tooth becomes infected it will spread through the root canal of the tooth, and will eventually lead to an abscess. Pain from an abscess can come and go and antibiotics will only temporarily alleviate the pain. Furthermore, persistent use of antibiotics can also cause them to be less effective over time as the infection becomes more resistant. It is best to treat the tooth rather than rely on repeated use of antibiotics.
- The aim of a root canal is not only to remove all infection from the tooth, but also to sterilise and completely fill the canal space with inert material.
- Infected pulp is removed and any abscesses can be drained. Then the dentist will clean and disinfect the tooth and place temporary filling before leaving the tooth to settle.
- At the second appointment the tooth is checked and when all infection has cleared the tooth is permanently filled with a rubber-like substance called “Gutta-percha” and a permanent filling.
- Sometimes it is possible to do an RCT in one appointment- this is not poor dentistry, and depends on how the tooth is after the first stage is completed; it may not be necessary to leave the tooth to settle.
- Very challenging cases may be referred to an endodontic specialist or a dentist with a special interest in endodontics.
- Teeth that have undergone root canal treatment usually have large amounts of missing tooth structure and may become brittle– your dentist may suggest a crown to strengthen and support the tooth.
- This procedure should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. Sometimes there is some tenderness afterwards but this should gradually decrease with time.
Saving your smile.
If root canal treatment is not done, the tooth may need to be extracted. There are many benefits to saving a tooth rather than extracting it, such as:
- To retain your natural smile.
- You don’t have to restore the tooth with options such as dentures, bridges or implants.
- The teeth surrounding the tooth which has been extracted can start to move, which over time may lead to your smile not being in line and problems with your bite.
- Without teeth, the bone volume in your jaw decreases causing the gum tissue to do the same which can affect your ability to chew and speak.
Sometimes it is necessary to perform a root canal treatment on healthy teeth; this is called “Elective Endodontics”. This can happen in situations such as:
- When there is not enough tooth substance present to hold a restoration (such as a crown), a dentist might recommend an RCT treatment of the pulp of the tooth, followed by a “post and core” where the pulp is replaced by a metal post so that the tooth can hold the crown.
- When a dentist needs to maintain the roots of a tooth (e.g. to support a denture)
- In some cases a root canal can fail and need retreatment, sometimes years after the procedure. This can happen for a variety of reasons; your dentist will be able to explain to you why this has happened and the best course of action.
Being referred for root canal treatment.
In certain cases, your dentist may refer you to an a dentist with a special interest in endodontics or an endodontic specialist for root canal therapy. Your dentist will give you the reasons why, but it may be because:
- The root canal may be difficult to access due to the tooth’s structure or position.
- Re-treating a tooth which has had unsuccessful root canal treatment.
Dr Ricky Ruparelia, a dentist with a special interest in endodontics, works at our Harrogate practice treating patients for root canal treatment. After winning several awards in the field of Endodontics, Ricky completed a 3 year postgraduate masters (MSc) degree, in order to gain the knowledge and skills to treat complex endodontic cases on referral. Alongside Endodontics, Ricky has also had extensive training in advanced restorative and cosmetic dentistry from the prestigious Tipton Training Academy, Perio Academy, Frank Spear and The Dawson Academy to name a few. As a former dental phobic himself, Ricky can empathise with those who are nervous about seeing the dentist. He has a natural ability to put patients at ease and takes considerable pride in providing his dental phobic patients with high quality care. Contact the practice directly to book your consultation or call 01225 418034
Dr Masih Alroyayamina, a specialist in Endodontics, works at our Brookwood and Rustington practices treating patients for root canal treatment. After graduating from King’s College London in 2009, Masih enjoyed 1 year of vocational training and another year of oral surgery hospital residency. Subsequently, he relocated to Australia, where he worked as a general dentist. On returning to the UK, Masih completed a 4-year endodontics specialist training programme in the world-leading and internationally renowned Eastman Dental Hospital in London, where he dealt with complex restorative cases including root canal infections. Masih was awarded Membership in Endodontics by the Royal College of Surgeons and registered as a specialist in endodontics by the GDC. Contact our practices Brookwood by calling 01483 370002 or Rustington on 01903 373002 to book your consultation.