The aim of root canal treatment is to prevent your tooth from being taken out by removing the damaged pulp and treating the infection.
You may need root canal treatment for a number of reasons, including:
If the infection isn’t treated, it can spread further and cause an abscess, which is a collection of pus. This can be painful, tender and can cause swelling around your tooth and jaw.
Sometimes your tooth may look darker in colour than your other teeth, which means that the nerve inside your tooth is dead or dying.
Root canal treatment is usually carried out by a dentist. But if your tooth is difficult to treat, your dentist may refer you to an endodontist. This is a dentist who specialises in root canal treatment.
Your dentist will examine you and ask about your symptoms, including any pain you’re experiencing. They may also ask you about your medical history and any previous treatment you’ve had on your teeth.
As well as this, your dentist will take an X-ray of your tooth. This can help to show which tooth is causing pain and needs treatment, and how far any infection has spread. The X-ray is necessary for your dentist to make sure that your tooth isn’t too badly damaged for root canal treatment.
Although some root canal treatments can be completed within one appointment, most are done over two or more sessions with your dentist.
What are the alternatives to root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is used to save teeth, allowing you to keep a healthy, natural smile. The alternative to root canal is to remove the tooth completely, as the infection won’t heal on its own.
Your dentist will always try and save your natural tooth where they can, but they may suggest you have the tooth removed if it’s badly damaged or if you have severe gum disease, which prevents your tooth from healing after treatment.
How long does it take to recover from root canal treatment?
After a local anesthetic, it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into your jaw and face. Take special care not to bump or knock the area. You can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to help with any discomfort after the anesthetic wears off and for the next couple of days. You’ll be able to go back to work after the procedure.
You may have some slight tenderness around the area, but usually this lasts for only a short time. The area around your tooth may also be swollen and bruised. This should get better within two weeks of your treatment.
When you next need to see your dentist will depend on the reasons for your treatment and how the procedure went. Your dentist may ask you to have further X-rays and check-ups to make sure that the tooth is healing well.
What will my tooth look like afterwards?
Traditionally, root canal treatment is associated with causing teeth to become darker. However, modern techniques allow your dentist to leave your tooth looking almost exactly as it did before the treatment. If you have any questions about the appearance of your teeth, speak to your dentist who can reassure you.
Are there any complications?
Most root canal treatment is successful, but as with any procedure, there can be occasional complications. These include:
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