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What is A Root Canal: Treatments Explained

Root canal treatment (endodontics) is an effective and long-term solution needed to treat teeth or a tooth that gets infected at the centre. If you have been suffering from tooth decay, leaky fillings or damage to the teeth due to trauma you will probably need a root canal. 

If you are scheduled for a root canal treatment, you probably would like to know what’s involved, but don’t worry – it isn’t painful and depending on how severe the infection is, it can prevent you from having to remove the tooth or teeth completely! Read on to find out more about root canal treatments.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment can prevent an infected tooth or teeth from being extracted and can also prevent the infection from spreading any further. The infected pulp (soft tissue) from the tooth would be extracted from the centre of the tooth. As previously mentioned if you have been suffering from decay, deep filling or injury to the tooth you may be experiencing the following symptoms:

  • General pain 
  • Pain when eating or drinking either hot or cold food and drink
  • Pain when biting or chewing food
  • Loose tooth or teeth
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Discolouration of the tooth or teeth
  • Metallic taste
  • Gum tenderness
  • Swelling 

If you discover the symptoms are decreasing or are going away completely, this may be a sign of the infection progressing and the pulp dying. This means the infection has spread through the root canal, which will lead to symptoms returning. It is important to address this as early as possible before infections can become fully established.

How is Root Canal Treatment performed?

Root canal treatments involve the removal of bacteria from the root canal system. Two or several appointments are usually provided by your dentist or endodontist depending on the tooth. Before the root canal treatment, x-rays will be carried out to examine how affected the tooth is. 

Firstly, a rubber sheet or dam is placed around the tooth or teeth to ensure it remains dry during the treatment and prevents you from breathing in any chemicals during the treatment. A local anesthetic is also used to numb the infected tooth and gums that surround it. 


The tooth is then opened through the crown to remove any infected pulp in the centre, along with any dental abscess (pus-filled swelling) which will be drained as well. 

The root canal is then shaped, washed out with anti-bacterial solution and then enlarged to fill the tooth and prevent the bacteria from interfering during the healing process. This is the longest part of the treatment and may need to be undertaken over multiple appointments, especially if there are more than one root canal. 

A permanent filling or crown is used to complete the treatment as root filled teeth can break more than healthy teeth, ensuring the tooth function and shape are maintained. A crown is a cap that encloses the tooth completely and is made from either metal, porcelain, ceramic material or powdered glass. 

The original tooth size will be reduced and the crown will replace this, where a mould will be created so the crown is the accurate size and shape. Cement is usually used to glue the crown to the tooth and if there is only a small amount of tooth left, the post can be cemented to keep the crown in place. 

You may feel slight pain around the tooth or teeth and gums as the anaesthetic wears off and you may experience swelling. 

How effective is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is extremely effective at clearing infections and preventing the need to remove the tooth or teeth affected and last up to 10 years. As long as you look after your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly, it can be maintained. It does depend on how much of the original tooth remains and biting forces on the tooth, but if it does become infected again the treatment can be repeated. Sometimes the infection may remain even if the root canal treatment has been successful, therefore a small operation to remove the root tip will be carried out by your dentist. Over-the-counter medication is usually recommended to improve the pain and swelling so be sure to ask your dentist which is the best one for you. 

After the treatment is completed, you will most likely have another visit with your dentist to ensure the infection is gone, it may take a while for you to feel used to the tooth after treatment. 

If you are concerned about any future tooth decay, infections and gum disease it is recommended that:

  • You brush your teeth before you go to bed and at one other time during the day
  • Use fluoride toothpaste
  • Use the right toothbrush for you, if you are unsure ask your dentist for a recommendation
  • Floss to remove food and to avoid plaque from building up
  • Avoid drinking or eating too much sugary food or drinks
  • Regular check ups at the dentist and cleanings are also important to prevent more treatment

Book your Root Canal Treatment with St Helier Today

To book a consultation or learn more about the root canal procedure contact us today. Based in Sutton and Morden, our team of experienced dentists are able to complete high-quality root canal. Don’t delay in improving your smile! To learn more about maintaining your oral health and hygiene you can read more on the St. Helier blog

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