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What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure that is carried out to try and save a tooth from potential extraction. At Oak Mount Dental Practice in Didsbury, we focus on prevention with a keen emphasis on keeping your oral hygiene at an excellent level. However, sometimes root canal treatment is necessary. We find that a large majority of our patients are unsure of what to expect when it comes to the procedure. In this article, we will discuss what root canal treatment is, when it is needed and how to recover after the procedure. 

To understand root canal treatment, you first need to understand the different layers within a tooth. Teeth are made up of two main parts: the crown and the root. The crown is the part of the tooth that is visible in the mouth and the root is the part that sits within the bone of the jaw, anchoring the tooth into position. 

Teeth also consist of several layers:

  • The enamel – the outer protective layer of the tooth
  • The dentine – a softer material that forms the majority of the tooth
  • The cementum – a hard material that coats the root’s surface
  • The dental pulp – the soft tissue at the centre of the tooth and what the root canal system contains. It extends from the crown all the way to the end of the root. This is also where the nerve is situated. 

What does root canal treatment do?

Root canal treatment, otherwise known as endodontics, is performed to treat an infection within the dental pulp. Treatment is needed when a bacterial infection develops within the centre of the tooth, caused by tooth decay, leaky fillings or damage to the tooth from trauma. The infection can often lead to severe pain and swelling within the gums near the affected tooth. Over time, an untreated damaged or infected nerve can also cause discolouration to the tooth. 

Root canal treatment is carried out to prevent any long-lasting problems, including tooth loss, from occurring. A root canal procedure involves cleaning out the root canal, and removing the damaged nerve. As it is the nerve that controls the feeling in your tooth, once this is removed, you will no longer feel any pain in that particular tooth. It is important to realise that although you will have no feeling in the tooth after the treatment, it will not affect the overall health or function of the tooth. 

What’s involved in the procedure?

A root canal procedure is completely painless as you will be given a local anaesthetic. It will feel very similar to having a regular filling. The main aim is to remove the infection, including the nerve of the tooth. The dentist will remove the cap of your tooth to be able to access and remove the soft tissue that sits inside the tooth. Once removed, the dentist will then fill the tooth with a filling or crown. 

Find out more about the procedure here.

Recovering from treatment

After treatment, the tooth should no longer cause you pain. However, it may feel slightly sensitive for a few days while everything is calming down. Over the counter pain killers can help ease any discomfort. It is very important to look after your teeth very well during the recovery period. Hard or chewy foods should be avoided if possible, as the pressure can harm the recovery process of the tooth. In approximately 9 out of 10 cases, a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment is performed, which is much longer than if it was left alone.

If you think you may have an infected tooth that is causing you pain, please book an appointment with one of our dentists at Oak Mount Dental Practice in Didsbury. Call our practice today on 0161 445 1211.


Posted by Oak Mount Dental Practice

Website last updated: June 2022

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