Root canal therapy

What is root canal therapy?

Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that replaces a tooth’s damaged or infected pulp with a filling. The pulp is the tooth’s lifeline – its vessels, tissue fibres and nerves in the central hollow of the tooth keep it alive. The procedure to replace this damaged or infected pulp is also known as endodontic treatment.

Treatment of the tooth usually takes a few visits to complete. The aim of this treatment is to save the tooth, so that you don’t need dentures or an implant or a bridge.

Symptoms of a damaged or diseased tooth pulp

  • unprovoked or spontaneous pain
  • sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and foods
  • pain when biting or chewing
  • loosening of the tooth
  • swelling of the gum near the affected tooth
  • oozing of pus surrounding the affected tooth
  • facial swelling.

Complications of tooth pulp infection

If tooth pulp infection is left untreated, complications could include:

  • spreading infection – once the pulp becomes infected, it loses its ability to fight the spread of the infection. If bacteria find their way into the pulp chamber, the bacteria will multiply. This can cause a severe infection or an endodontic abscess (a pocket or ‘blister’ of pus) when it spreads into the surrounding bone
  • localised bone loss – the infection may spread around the ends of the infected root canal and erode surrounding jaw bone
  • loss of tooth – the tooth may have to be removed, which interferes with the person’s ability to bite and chew and may affect appearance if the tooth is near the front of the mouth.

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