What is Root Canal?
In our Dublin dental practice we regularly provide root canal treatments. Root canal treatment involves removing infected tissue from your tooth, cleaning it and then filling it to prevent further damage or infection. Root canal treatment can save a tooth that would otherwise have to be taken out.
Root canal treatment
In the middle of your teeth there is a core of blood vessels and nerves called pulp. The pulp sits inside a space called the root canal. Each tooth can have one or more root canals. Your front teeth often have just one root canal, whereas your back teeth may have three or more.
The pulp in your tooth can become infected with bacteria if your tooth becomes damaged. This can happen in a number of ways. These include:
- severe tooth decay
- an injury, such as a blow to your mouth
- cracked or loose fillings, or repeated fillings in your tooth
- gum disease
If the pulp in your tooth becomes infected this can spread to the root canal and your tooth may become painful. If the infection spreads further it can cause a tooth abscess, which is a collection of pus. This can be painful and tender when you bite down on your tooth and can cause swelling around your tooth and jaw. Sometimes your tooth may look darker in colour than your other teeth, which means that the nerve inside your tooth is dead or dying. Without treatment the infection may spread further into your jawbone and you may need to have the tooth taken out.
The aim of root canal treatment is to remove the damaged pulp and the bacteria that are causing the infection. Based in the heart of Ballsbridge in Dublin, our principal dentist Dr. Keenan will drill a hole into the tooth to the root canal and remove the pulp and infected tissue. Dr. Keenan will then clean and fill the empty root canal and put a permanent seal over the top of your tooth.
Root canal treatment can save a tooth which would otherwise need to be taken out. When a tooth is removed it can affect how you look and also how well you chew. Although Dr. Keenan will remove nerves and blood vessels from your tooth when the pulp is taken out, your tooth will continue to live. This is because the surrounding tissues provide it with the blood and nutrients it needs.
Root canal treatment can often be done in one session, or you may need to have treatment over more than one session. How long treatment takes will depend on how severe the problem is.
What are the alternatives to a root canal?
Sometimes damaged teeth can’t be repaired with root canal treatment. This is usually if your tooth is badly damaged or if you have severe gum disease which prevents your tooth from healing or being well supported after treatment. In this case dentist Dr. Keenan may suggest you have the tooth removed (extracted).
Preparing for root canal treatment
Dr. Keenan will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Dr. Keenan may also ask you about your medical history and any previous treatment you have had on your teeth. Dr. Keenan will also take an X-ray of your tooth. This can help to show how far any infection has spread, if there is an abscess and how many root canals your tooth has. Root canal treatment is usually done under local anaesthesia. This completely blocks pain from the jaw area and you will stay awake during the procedure. If you’re concerned about having a local anaesthetic, talk to us.
Dr. Keenan will discuss with you what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and any pain you might have. This is your opportunity to understand what will happen, and you can help yourself by preparing questions to ask about the risks, benefits and any alternatives to the procedure. This will help you to be informed, so you can give your consent for the procedure to go ahead, which you may be asked to do by signing a consent form.
What happens during a root canal treatment?
If you need a local anaesthetic, Dr. Keenan will give it to you a few minutes before the procedure, to give it time to work. Dr. Keenan will make a hole in the top of your tooth and remove the dead or diseased pulp. He will then clean out the empty hole using a fluid that also helps to get rid of any infection. The hole in your tooth may need to be widened to make sure it can be filled properly, and is done using small files.
This can take several hours and may have to be done over more than one visit. If the root canal is severely damaged, this may be all the treatment you have during your first visit. Dr. Keenan will put a temporary filling in your tooth to keep it sealed until you go back for the next stage of your treatment. However, if your tooth isn’t severely damaged Dr. Keenan may put a permanent filling in and seal the tooth. He may take an X-ray to check it before your tooth is filled.
If you have a temporary filling, our dentist Dr. Keenan will remove this and replace it with a permanent one when you go back for your next appointment. He will then seal your tooth to prevent infection and further damage. If there is a risk that your tooth may become damaged again Dr. Keenan may suggest having a crown fitted.
What to expect after your root canal treatment
You will usually be able to go home when you feel ready. After a local anaesthetic it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into your mouth.
You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.
If you feel that a root canal treatment may be for you then call today to make an appointment to see our dentist here in Ballsbridge in Dublin 4.