What is Endodontics?


Inside every tooth is a soft tissue called pulp, which contains nerve and blood vessels. The pulp goes all the way down to the tip of the root. If a tooth is decayed, or has had repeated dental treatment or fractures, bacteria can enter into the nerve canal within the root of the tooth and the pulp becomes infected or inflamed. An infected nerve may cause pain and can lead on to abscess formation at the end of the root within the supporting jawbone. Sometimes there may be no symptoms.

The purpose of Endodontics is to prevent or eliminate disease within the tooth and surrounding bone. The infected/inflamed pulp is removed; the root canals are cleaned, shaped and sealed to prevent bacteria re-entering the canal and further infection occurring. Thus avoiding the need for extraction of the infected tooth.

How is the treatment carried out?

The treatment is carried out using a local anaesthetic and we ensure you are comfortable throughout the procedure. The pulp is accessed through the tooth, and using x-rays, specialist endodontic instruments and equipment, the root canals are located and the infected nerve is removed. The canals are measured and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using small files and antibacterial irrigation. To ensure maximum sterilisation, an antiseptic dressing is left inside the tooth for several days. The root canals are then filled with gutta-percha. This material has been used as a root filling for over 50 years and is rubbery in nature. It can be heated and softened to flow into the root canal and achieve optimum sealing.

Your tooth may feel sensitive for 24-48 hours after treatment completion. The discomfort usually settles down of its own accord or may be relieved by painkillers. If pain is severe and persists for more than a few days, contact your endodontist for advice.

How long does the treatment take?

Endodontics is a highly specialised treatment and is time consuming. Most courses of treatment will involve up to two appointments of between one to two hours duration. We have the facility to provide DVD and musical entertainment to help you relax throughout your treatment.

How successful is the treatment?

The way in which we carry out the procedure does ensure a very high success rate. There are many factors, which influence the prognosis and our endodontist will be happy to discuss those with you. However, despite our very best efforts sometimes, as with many medical procedures, complete healing may not occur. These cases where further treatments are required are however infrequent.

How is the tooth restored after the treatment?

After root canal treatment has been carried out, the tooth is weakened and more susceptible to fracture. It is therefore essential that the tooth is properly restored soon after. Placement of a crown is recommended on back teeth as it covers the whole tooth, preventing it from splitting. Once restoration is complete the tooth can be used as normal.

To find out more about endodontics visit American Association of Endodontists
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