Endodontics, also known as root canal treatment, is normally required when the pulp of the tooth, which contains nourishing nerves and blood vessels, becomes diseased. This inflammation or infection can cause a variety of problems, such as deep decay and the appearance of cracks and chips, and can be the cause of repeated dental procedures on the tooth. If left untreated, it can cause pain or even lead to an abscess.
Root canal therapy is the first step in saving the tooth and involves the removal of the infected pulp tissues from the tooth. The inside of the tooth is then carefully cleaned and disinfected with an anti-bacterial solution. The canal is then filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha and sealed. Finally, the tooth is restored to its former shape and function by either a permanent filling or a crown.
Although it traditionally had a bad reputation, modern root canal treatment is no worse than having a routine filling. Treatment can usually can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. You may experience some tenderness in the area around the tooth over the few days following treatment, which is normal and can be managed using over-the-counter pain relief.
It’s not recommended to leave an infected tooth in your mouth, so unfortunately the only alternative is usually to have the tooth extracted.
Because the tooth will be technically ‘dead’, it is possible for it to darken slightly. This can be managed with professional tooth whitening or with a ceramic veneer or crown.