Endodontic treatments like root canals are dental procedures that are often prescribed to treat an infection that has formed at the centre of a tooth root.
Whilst the root canal treatment is fairly simple and not painful, the procedure makes it possible to save a tooth without it having to be permanently removed.
Do you think you need a root canal? Speak to one of our dentists here.
Root canals preserve the infected tooth and clean out decay, during the procedure your dentist will:
- Extract the bacteria and decay that is gathering at the tooth pulp, root and nerve
- Apply antibiotics to the area to disinfect it
- Address empty roots and fill them
- Prevent any new decay from forming by sealing the area
Root canal symptoms
- Persistent tooth pain
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Tooth discolouration (darkened tooth)
- Swollen gums
- Pain when eating or touching teeth
What are the steps for root canal treatment?
- Preparing the tooth: Your dentist will begin taking a series of X-rays of the affected tooth, in order to build an accurate assessment of any damage caused.
- Remove the pulp: A rubber sheet (dam) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry, this will also prevent you from swallowing any chemicals we use. First, we will open the tooth, access the soft tissue at the centre and remove any infected pulp.
- Cleaning and filling: Once we remove the pulp, we will clean and enlarge the root canal. As the root canal is very narrow, it makes it difficult to fill. Therefore we will use a series of small files to enlarge the canal. Depending on which tooth, times for this can vary, for example, your biting teeth only contain one root canal, where premolars can contain two.
- Sealing and fixing: During your next visit, the temporary filling will be removed and the root canal filling inserted. This will then prevent any further reinfections from occurring. Because root-filled teeth can be more likely to break, the dentist may suggest a crown to be placed on top of the tooth to keep it protected.
- Add a crown: Crowns can be constructed from metal, ceramic or porcelain.
How painful is a root canal?
For the patient, it should not feel any different from having a deep filling.
Patients anyway will experience very little pain as a local anaesthetic is used to numb the tooth and gums.
This helps the patients to feel calm and relaxed throughout the procedure.
Root canal patient testimonial:
I had a root canal a few years ago now, and honestly, it felt no different to having a filling placed.
Local anaesthetic was used to numb the area, and the discomfort afterwards was very minimal.
I was a bit weary because I had been warned by others that it was a nasty treatment, and I think this is because decades ago, it probably was.
Learning about the procedure and how it cleans out the canals inside a tooth sounds painful, but in reality, it was fine and the recovery was very quick. In my recommendation, I would not think twice about it.
See root canal myths here.
How long does a root canal take?
Root canal procedures are fairly simple and straightforward.
Taking no longer than 60 minutes, most patients are in and out within the hour.
However, concerning the more complicated cases, the dentist may require an hour and a half.
The length of this treatment is therefore determined by the type of tooth being treated and the number of root canals required.
Unless you’re entitled to free treatment on the NHS, you will have to pay privately for your root canal treatment.
Ensure when you are choosing a dentist that you opt for a dental specialist who is listed on the General Dental Council (GDC).
- Root Canal Treatment Consultation £160
- Root Canal Treatments from £520
DO NOT avoid root canals
It’s important for patients to note that when infections are left untreated, further damage is caused by the decay, which can cause the tooth to fall out.
In the case, where root canals may not be effective, the dentist may make the recommendation to remove the infected tooth to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body.