Root canal filling

Sometimes a tooth has a large amount of decay in it that extends in to the inner chamber of the tooth known as the pulp. The pulp is a complex of nerves and blood vessels in the centre of the tooth. If the decay gets close to the pulp it can become inflamed - a condition known as pulpitis. This presents with symptoms of toothache - classically a throbbing pain that does not settle with normal over the counter pain relief. It is at this stage that a root canal treatment is indicated. Sometimes the pulp gets infected and when this infection spreads to the root canal and the tooth can become severely painful. If the infection is not treated then it can cause a dental abscess.

Root canal treatment involves removing the inflamed and sometimes infected pulp tissue from the tooth, then cleaning, widening and shaping the root canals to receive a root canal filling material. This procedure is designed to prevent further infection and problems within the tooth. A cavity is cut in to the tooth and the canals are accessed widened and cleaned and then prepared for filling.

Root canal treatment can sometimes be done in one sitting but usually takes two or more. It is done under local anaesthetic - that means that your tooth will be numbed with injections so you do not feel any pain. It is not unusual to feel a degree of discomfort after a root canal treatment visit. This can be controlled by simple over the counter pain killers.

X rays are required during a root canal treatment to see how far down in to the tooth instruments have gone in order to correctly prepare and shape the canals. The canals are prepared and widened using a combination of drills and special files and reamers.

A dental extraction is an alternative to root canal treatment if the tooth is beyond repair or the patient does not wish to undertake a root canal treatment. Root canal treatment work is fine difficult work and the results are not guaranteed. If a root canal filling fails then the tooth may well need to be removed.

Usually after successful a root canal treatment is done the tooth will need building up with either a filling material or more usually an inlay or crown. An inlay or crown will be provided if there is substantial tooth loss which would leave a filling unsupported.

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