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What is endodontic treatment?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry concerned with treating the inside of a tooth. (endo= inside, odont = tooth). It is more commonly referred to as root canal treatment. Endodontic treatment removes infected or damaged tissue from inside the tooth. This tissue, called the pulp, contains nerves and blood vessels that nourish the tooth. After the pulp is removed, the root canals are cleaned, disinfected, filled and sealed.What may have caused the damage or infection in my tooth? The most common cause of pulp damage is severe decay or a fracture in the tooth which exposes the pulp to bacteria. This causes the pulp tissue to become infected. Other causes of damage include trauma, a blow to a tooth, a cracked or loose filling or a previous deep filling.

How many appointments will I need?

That depends on which tooth is to be treated, the access to the tooth, the degree of infection and whether any previous endodontic treatment has been performed. At the consultation appointment we can determine how many appointments will be required. It usually takes one or two appointments and very occasionally may take three.

How long will my tooth last after endodontic treatment?

With an appropriate restoration (e.g. usually a crown in back teeth) placed on top of the tooth after your root canal treatment the tooth may last a lifetime. This requires good oral and dental care, good oral hygiene and periodic dental check-ups.

Does endodontic treatment hurt?

With the use of modern techniques, root canal treatment typically involves little or no discomfort. Often there is pain before treatment and endodontic treatment provides relief. Some patients can experience some discomfort and tenderness just after treatment but this is usually alleviated with over-the-counter painkillers.

What are the alternatives to endodontic treatment?

The alternative to root canal treatment is extraction of the tooth. This option and any subsequent treatment plan can be discussed with your own dentist or at the endodontic consultation.

Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

Occasionally a tooth cannot be saved with endodontic treatment as treatment will only be successful if all the canals within the tooth are accessible and can be adequately cleaned. A tooth must have adequate bone support if treatment is to be successful.

We will only carry out treatment if the long-term for the tooth outlook is good and only if the tooth can be adequately restored after endodontic treatment. This will be discussed at your endodontic consultation appointment.

Can the treatment fail?

Endodontic treatment can have a success rate of up to 90% if carried out to a high standard. Problems can occur if the tooth develops decay, if the restoration on top of the tooth fails or sometimes despite good endodontic treatment, the tooth may not heal as expected. In such cases further endodontic treatment or surgery may be carried out if appropriate.

Want to know more?

At the consultation appointment we will be happy to talk further with you, answer other questions, discuss your own specific case and talk you through your endodontic treatment plan. Please do not hesitate to ask if you have any queries or anxieties at all.