Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment (also known as endodontic treatment) is the field of dentistry aimed at the prevention and elimination of an infection at the end of the root. These infections are caused by bacteria from the mouth invading the dental nerve (pulp tissue) which lives in the centre of the tooth and root causing it to die and set up an infection. The infection can be extremely painful, but in some chronic cases there is no pain at all and the infection is first detected on routine X-rays. Typical symptoms are a rapid increase in sensitivity to temperature, followed by a constant intense spreading pain which despite pain relief, does not improve. Other symptoms are an inability to put pressure on the tooth and this can then be associated with some form of swelling and abscess formation. At Exeter Advanced Dentistry, our dentist with a special interest in endodontics, Dr Daniel Zillwood provides the majority of root canal treatments for our patients. He has a Masters Degree in Endodontics and has been accepting referrals from other dentists across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset for over 10 years. He also sees many patients who self-refer for treatment. Due to the high demand for his services, Daniel now only works in the field of endodontics.
How does it work?
Root canal treatment is the process by which the infected canal system is accessed and thoroughly cleaned by the use of dedicated small instruments and cleaning solutions. The system is then filled entirely with a rubber based root filling material.
It is an intricate procedure and can, therefore, take place over 1 or 2 appointments each of which could be between 1 or 2 hours. The procedure itself is painless and performed under local anesthetic, although there can be a little discomfort for up to 48 hours afterward which can be controlled with painkillers if necessary. The success rates for root canal treatments are generally between 85-95%.
The use of equipment such as dental operating microscopes have made a significant difference in our ability to treat complex root systems reducing the risk of missing canals for example and therefore leaving bacteria behind.
One of the main disadvantages for root treating teeth, especially molar ones, is that the tooth is weaker due to the hole made to gain access to the canals. For the majority of molar teeth, it is then sensible to consider protecting the rest of the tooth structure from breaking with a crown or onlay. In most cases it is possible to prevent the need for further root canal treatment by paying close attention to oral hygiene, we will always offer advice which will help to maximise the lifespan of the tooth.