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Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic therapy removes dead and dying tissues and cleans out the root canals. This happens when the central part of the tooth has become damaged and infected. This therapy is an excellent method of saving the tooth from extraction.

When is it necessary to have root canal therapy?

Infection in a tooth can damage the pulp and nerves. If you require root canal therapy you will experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe toothache
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pain on biting and chewing
  • Discoloured or darkened teeth
  • A pimple on the gum near the affected tooth
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What is the danger of untreated tooth decay, trauma or tooth fractures?

Teeth can suffer trauma after being hit very hard. If untreated, the nerves can be damaged, especially when a cavity is formed and the tooth eventually dies.  Tooth fractures can sometimes reach the pulp leaving very little of the natural tooth. This condition will require root canal therapy to repair the damage. If this does not save the tooth it will have to be extracted.

When does a dental abscess form?

It is possible for the toothache to disappear after the pulp dies. However the infection can spread to the roots of the tooth causing an abscess. This then leads to the build-up of puss causing a pimple to develop on the gum. When the puss begins to drain from the pimple the patient can experience an unpleasant taste in the mouth. It is of utmost importance for root canal therapy to commence in order to clear out all the dead tissue and bacteria in the central part of the mouth and the root canal. Antibiotics can help to control the infection but only root canal therapy can save the tooth.

What is the procedure for a root canal treatment?

  • Your dentist will need to take an x-ray of the tooth to diagnose the problem, to visualise the extent of the infection and to ascertain the shape of the root canal.
  • Other tests will also be carried out to assess the problem in relation to other healthy teeth.
  • Local anesthetic will be used to numb the infected tooth so you will not experience any pain.
  • The infected pulp will be accessed through the crown of your tooth enabling the pulp chamber and the root canals to be thoroughly cleaned. The infected tissue will be removed before the inside of the tooth is disinfected.
  • In the case of quite advanced infection, your dentist will attempt to eliminate infection by medicating the pulp chamber and seal it temporarily for a week or two. The tooth then will be permanently sealed at a later date, and the dental crown restored to function normally.
  • A protective crown will be required to prevent the tooth from breaking in the future and to restore lost tooth structure.
  • Occasionally, if the need arises a post might be placed into one of the root canals to provide extra support to the tooth and to the crown.
  • You must take care to avoid chewing on that side of your mouth for a few days for the sensitivity to ease.