The word ‘endodontics’ comes from the ancient Greek meaning ‘inside the tooth’. As this suggests, endodontics is concerned with the health of the inner part of the tooth, primarily in the root canals where many tiny blood vessels and nerves are stored.
Problems arise when the soft pulp in the canals becomes infected, which can be caused by bacteria entering through a crack in the tooth or even following tooth trauma after an accident. When this happens, a root canal procedure is necessary in order to preserve the natural tooth. Failure to treat a tooth infected in this manner will almost certainly result in the need for an extraction, quite possibly following severe toothache.
The root canal procedure
Patients who may be worried about having root canal treatment need not be. Concerns have been exaggerated over the years and the truth is that the procedure should cause no more discomfort than other treatments. However, root canal therapy can take quite a long time to perform due to the intricate nature of the procedure and particular care which must be taken when working in the root canals of the tooth.
Before the procedure starts, the relevant area of your mouth will be numbed using a local anaesthetic. Once this has taken effect, the dentist will then remove part of the top section of the tooth to allow access to the canals.
The infected soft pulp is removed and the hollow chamber then thoroughly cleaned to remove any remaining bacteria. Once this has been done, the canals are filled with a special dental filling known as Gutta Percha.
Finally, a dental crown will be added to the tooth to restore natural appearance and provide additional strength.
Whilst a root canal treated tooth should offer sufficient strength for day to day use, it is worth bearing in mind that it may not be quite as strong as a healthy tooth. Consequently you should take care not to bite down too firmly on hard objects.
Where a more complex root canal procedure is required, we may choose to refer you to a specialist endodontist. This is a registered dental specialism focussed solely on root canal therapy. We will of course discuss all of the options with you before recommending the appropriate course of action.
If you live in the St John’s Wood area of London and are not currently registered with a dentist, or perhaps looking to change to a dentist who can offer a wider range of treatments, please call our team at Roland and Tollett Dental Practices on 0207 722 8995 and we’ll be very pleased to arrange a consultation.