Root Canal Treatment or Endodontics involves work inside the root of the tooth. It is carried out because the nerve in a tooth has died and become infected, or because it has become inflamed and painful. This can happen due to trauma, decay or just general ‘wear and tear'. It is sometimes recommended if restorative work is planned and it is feared that the additional trauma of this work is likely to cause the nerve to die or become inflamed.
The aim of the treatment is to remove dead or inflamed tissue from the nerve canals and to fill this space so bacteria cannot colonise it, causing ongoing infection. The nerve chamber of the tooth is opened and the channels in the roots cleaned and shaped to allow disinfection and filling to the root tips. The difficulty of doing this varies considerably depending on the tooth involved, its past history and the age of the patient. An x-ray picture is taken before treatment starts to assess the number and shapes of the roots.
Treatment is usually carried out under local anaesthetic (as for a normal filling) and should not be uncomfortable. As small instruments and disinfectants are used, a protective sheet of rubber is placed over the tooth to create a secure operating area. This means no debris or water collects in the mouth. There are usually one or two appointments involved with our Endodontist in Cambridge, depending on the particular situation. Following the root canal filling, the tooth is sealed with normal filling material.
The lack of a ‘live’ nerve in the tooth has little effect on its chewing ability as the main function of the nerve is during tooth formation and growth. However, root filled back teeth are more prone to cracking, because they are usually already heavily filled. Therefore it is usually recommended that a crown is placed on the tooth to protect it from fracture.