Root canal treatment is normally carried out over one or two appointments depending on the complexity of the case. Before your treatment commences the dentist (or endodontist) will take a series of X-rays of the affected tooth in order to build up a clear picture of the root canal and assess the extent of any damage and/or infection.
If you are feeling anxious about your treatment it may be helpful to arrange an additional consultation prior to treatment in order to assess your needs. You may, for example, be able to arrange medication for anxiety so that you feel more at ease.
Once the treatment is agreed the dentist will administer local anaesthetic to numb the affected area. The dentist will then access the soft tissue at the centre of the tooth through the crown (the flat part at the top of the tooth). The tooth canal will then be drained and cleared of infected matter before the dentist enlarges the area to prepare the tooth for a filling.
If the procedure needs to be carried out over several visits the dentist may put a small amount of medication in the cleaned canal and block the gap with a temporary filling.
At your next visit, the temporary filling and medication within the tooth will be removed and the root canal filling will be inserted. This, along with a well-fitting filling or crown, will seal the tooth and prevent re-infection.
Myths about root canal treatment
Many clients shudder when they hear the words ‘root canal’, though myths surrounding root canal, or endodontic treatment are often unfounded. One of the biggest myths is that root canal treatment is painful.
Understandably, pain is a major concern for many clients and many are pleasantly surprised to find that root canal treatment is a virtually pain-free procedure. Today, using the latest technologies and anaesthetics, root canal treatment is no more uncomfortable than having a regular filling. Particularly nervous or anxious clients can also benefit from additional forms of sedation should they so require, making the whole procedure as comfortable and relaxing as possible.
Another popular myth surrounding root canal treatment is that it is better to have an infected tooth extracted than have it treated and properly restored. This couldn’t be further from the truth as nothing can fully replace the strength and longevity of your own natural tooth. Indeed, we are often guilty of taking our teeth for granted and never fully realise their importance until they are gone. Ask any denture wearer if they prefer their prosthetic (false) teeth to the teeth they used to have and you will hear time and time again that even the most advanced teeth replacements aren’t anywhere near as good as the real thing.