The pulp of a tooth is made up of nerves and blood vessels. If a tooth is decayed or damaged then bacteria can get into the pulp, causing an infection. Root canal treatment (endodontics) can be used to save a tooth where the pulp within the tooth is inflamed or infected, preventing further damage to the teeth and jawbone, resolving any patient discomfort and restoring normal use of the mouth.
Signs you may need a root canal
If you are suffering from pain when biting and chewing, when eating or drinking hot or cold food or liquids or your tooth has become loose, then you may need root canal treatment. Pain is a sign that the pulp in the centre of your tooth has become infected. Sometimes your symptoms may have stopped, but please do tell your dentist about any toothache as sometimes the cessation of symptoms means that the nerves in the tooth have died. Your dentist will perform an x-ray to check your teeth and see if there are any bacteria in the pulp in the tooth. If left untreated the pain can return, infection can cause your gums and face to swell and you could develop an abscess, leading to the damaged tooth being extracted.
How root canal treatment works
Once your dentist has established that you need root canal treatment, they will give you a local anaesthetic to numb the affected area, before removing the damaged and infected tissue and giving it a thorough clean to remove all trace of bacteria. Your dentist will then clean and enlarge the root canals before filling them. This can take a few visits to the dentist and you may be fitted with a temporary crown until the process is complete and the tooth is finally restored using a permanent filling or crown.
Although the thought of root canal treatment can be daunting, the whole process should be relatively straightforward and you should not find the process too painful. Once the treatment is complete you can care for root-treated teeth by following the same oral hygiene routine that you use for your normal teeth.