Nothing quite strikes fear into the heart of dental patients like the words ‘root canal treatment’. When the blood or nerve supply of a tooth (often known as the ‘pulp’) becomes damaged through injury, infected or decayed, it can cause the nerve of the tooth to die. Year ago this would have meant a certain need to remove the tooth before the whole area became infected. However, thanks to root canal treatment it is now possible to save teeth that are at risk from the damaged pulp.
Infections spread fast and this is particularly true in our mouths which are moist and warm and a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to spread. An infection that starts in the pulp can quickly spread through the root canal system, and if left untreated could grow to form an abscess. If this happens then bacteria-filled pus will collect under the gums, causing them to swell and become hot and potentially extremely painful. At this point, your dentist will need to prescribe you with a course of oral antibiotic and it may be necessary to remove the tooth altogether.
The key aim of root canal treatment is to remove all of the infection from the root canal and save the original tooth.
When you consider that fear of the dentist is an almost universal phenomenon, it is unsurprising that tales of dental treatment are often embellished beyond recognition. In fact, a root canal should be no more painful than having an ordinary filling done.
Root canal treatment is quite a complex process and will normally require two or occasionally three visits to your dentist.