Root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure, which means that it involves the tooth pulp; the pulp is the living tissue of the tooth. Usually, root canal treatment is performed when a tooth is decayed or infected and the infection has spread to the pulp and it is often an alternative to tooth extraction.
What exactly does root canal treatment involve?
Before you have root canal treatment, your dentist will numb your tooth completely using local anaesthetic which helps to ensure that you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. Once the tooth is numb, your dentist will use a drill to access the root canals and any decayed or damaged pulp tissue will be removed and the canals will be cleared, cleaned and sealed. The root canals are filled with gutta percha, a dental filling material, to prevent the infection from spreading. Once the procedure is complete, a temporary crown is usually placed and this will be replaced by a permanent restoration around 2 weeks later. Placing a new crown strengthens the tooth and helps to reduce the risk of further infection. Before the crown is placed, the tooth is shaped and an impression is made; the impression is sent to a dental laboratory and your new bespoke crown will be fabricated by a skilled technician.
Are there any alternatives to root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is usually considered as an alternative to tooth extraction, which involves removing the tooth; in effect, this procedure can help to save a tooth. In most cases, a dentist will do everything to can to prevent removing a tooth and root canal treatment is generally preferred to extraction. In cases where the damage or decay is very severe and it is not possible to save the tooth, extraction will be carried out and it is advisable to consider tooth replacement treatment. Replacement options include dental implants, dental bridges and dentures.
Is root canal really as bad as everyone says?
There’s an assumption that root canal treatment is a scary and painful experience, but in reality, this is not the case. The procedure is conducted under local anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain. It is true that you may experience mild discomfort after the effects of the anaesthetic start to wear off at home; however, taking over the counter pain relief can usually ease temporary discomfort. If you are anxious about having root canal treatment, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist.