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Warrendale Dental Care
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Root Canal Therapy

What is root canal treatment (RCT)?

RCT is required when the nerve, connective tissue and blood vessels (called the pulp) inside the tooth become infected through decay or injury. The aim of the treatment is to preserve the tooth by removing all traces of the infected tissue and then sealing it from the tip of the root to the crown of the tooth to prevent further ingress of bacteria from causing infection or an abscess.

Why is root canal treatment needed?

If the infection described above is allowed to progress unchecked it could spread to the jawbone (osteomyelitis) or even cause blood poisoning (septicaemia). The alternative to RCT would be to extract the tooth to prevent these consequences.

Is RCT painful?

root canal film A local anaesthetic is used and therefore you will feel no pain during the procedure. There may be slight discomfort following the root filling for about 24hrs but many people report no symptoms. Usually any discomfort is controllable using proprietary painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

The RCT procedure 

  1. A local anaesthetic is applied and the tooth isolated using ‘rubber dam’. This is a sheet of non-latex rubberised plastic that covers all the mouth except the tooth being treated. It protects your airway and prevents further infection being introduced into the tooth.
  2. The root canal system is cleaned and shaped using disinfectants and very fine files.
  3. The root canal system is sealed using heated gutta percha (Thermafill – see below) and a permanent restoration placed in the crown of the tooth.

A temporary dressing may be placed after stage 2 in severely infected teeth and the tooth allowed to settle. If this is the case the tooth will be sealed at the next appointment.

RCT is a skilled and time-consuming process. Most planned RCTs are completed in a single visit but if difficult may require further visits. Emergency root fillings would normally require two visits. The procedure can take up to 2 hours in total.

Thermafil

Benefits

  • Three dimensional canal obturation (sealing)
  • Excellent apical and lateral canal sealing (warm gutta percha down to the apex)
  • Good obturation of long, curved and narrow canals
  • Good gutta filling of the whole root canal system

*Source: British Dental Health Foundation

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