Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is carried out to treat infection of the dental pulp and nerve canals within a tooth. Such infections occur when bacteria present in the mouth infiltrate into the core of the tooth, due to decay, a failed filling or other damage to the tooth.
Such infection will cause pain when biting or chewing, and also temperature sensitivity. If not treated, it can lead to a painful abscess developing and to loss of the tooth.
In root canal treatment, the dentist will open and clean the canals in the roots of the tooth, removing the live nerve in the process. This aims to remove all the bacteria and infection. Once clean the canals are then filled with dental materials, and the whole tooth is sealed with a protective filling or crown placed over the open canals.
Endodontic treatment can be challenging in teeth which have multiple roots, especially where the roots are strongly curved. Our dentists have special equipment to help locate the canals and check they have been fully cleaned. However, the most complex cases can be referred to a specialist endodontist.
Although they no longer have a live nerve, teeth that have been root canal treated can remain in place and fully functional for many years. After some years, they may become discoloured.