Root canal treatment

Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that repairs a tooth by removing the damaged or infected nerve of the tooth and sealing and filling it with a suitable material. Untreated tooth decay is a pathway to a host of serious dental problems that may result in a toothache. As a result, the tooth cannot be filled due to inflammation or infection of the nerves. To relieve the pain and prevent further infection or abscess, the tooth may be saved by root canal treatment or extracted. If the tooth is left untreated, complications could include, spread of infection into surrounding soft tissue and bones, as well as loss of bone and tooth.

During root canal treatment, the nerve or the pulp is removed from a tooth. The root canals are cleaned and shaped with a drill and small files. The tooth’s interior is cleaned, enlarged and shaped in preparation for being filled. If more than one visit is required, a temporary filling is placed to protect the tooth between visits. At the second visit, the root canals are permanently sealed and filled. A crown is usually indicated to restore the tooth’s natural shape and appearance, especially when the tooth is very broken down.

Success rates for endodontic treatment are generally good. About 85 per cent of patients who undergo root canal treatment can expect a functional tooth after treatment. The treated tooth can last a long time, providing good oral hygiene is maintained.

Diane Arnold