Root canal treatment

This is a type of dental procedure which treats infection within the ‘root canal’ of a tooth. The root canal system is the space within the tooth which extends from the top of the tooth (crown) down to the root.

This space consists of the pulp – a soft substance which contains nerves and blood vessels.

A tooth can have more than one root canal system.

Treatment usually involves cleaning out the infection from the root canal before sealing it with a filling. But in some cases a tooth extraction is the only answer.

Infected root canal system

Bacteria in the mouth cause tooth decay and gum disease which then lead to tooth loss. These bacteria attack the outer layer on the top of the tooth or ‘enamel’ before spreading down through the tooth.

But once this infection reaches the root canal system it attacks the soft pulp causing it to die. The bacteria multiply and then travel down the rest of the tooth before exiting out of the root canal system.

The danger with this is that there is nothing to prevent these bacteria from infecting the area around the root of the tooth. This results in a painful inflammation in the tissues of this area which may lead to a tooth abscess.

An abscess needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Treating an infected tooth

This means root canal treatment. It means removing the infection from within the tooth before preserving it with a filling. Your dentist will use dental instruments to expand the root canal in order to remove the damaged pulp.

The root canal is then cleaned and then closed with a filling or a crown. You may be prescribed antibiotics to deal with any remaining infection.

This treatment is successful in the majority of cases but there are some cases where the treatment has failed to save the tooth which results in its removal.

Root canal treatment accounts for a small percentage of missing teeth cases.