Root canal treatment
It’s a dental procedure used to treat infection at the centre of a tooth (the root canal system).
The infection is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and invade the tooth.
Root canal treatment is only required when dental X-rays show that the pulp has been damaged by a bacterial infection. The pulp will begin to die if it’s infected by bacteria, allowing the bacteria to then multiply and spread.
The symptoms of a pulp infection include:
- pain when eating or drinking hot or cold food and drink
- pain when biting or chewing
- a loose tooth
- swelling of the gum near the affected tooth
- pus oozing from the affected tooth
- facial swelling
- the tooth becoming a darker colour
Leaving the infected tooth in your mouth may make it worse. There may also be less chance of the root canal treatment working if the infection within your tooth becomes established.
Antibiotics aren’t effective in treating root canal infections.
How root canal treatment is performed
To treat the infection in the root canal, the bacteria need to be removed. This can be done by either:
- removing the bacteria from the root canal system (root canal treatment)
- removing the tooth (extraction)
However, removing the tooth isn’t usually recommended as it’s better to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible.
After the bacteria have been removed, the root canal will be filled and the tooth sealed with a filling or crown.