In the centre of each tooth there is a dental pulp, a collection of blood vessels and nerves. These blood vessels and nerves extend down the roots of the teeth in the root canals.
The pulp in your tooth can become infected by
- Dental decay
- Injury or trauma- such as a blow or fracture
- Cracked teeth
- Placement of deep restorations.
If the pulp becomes infected this can spread down the root canals of the teeth and eventually spread into the surrounding tissues. The aim of root canal treatment is to remove the damaged/ infected tissue from the pulp and root canals. Root canal treatment is usually performed under local anaesthesia. In some cases where the tooth has died this may not be necessary. After anaesthesia the dentist may place a rubber dam over the tooth to isolate it from the rest of the mouth. The pulp chamber will then be accessed through the occlusal surface of the tooth. The root canals once located, are measured. The dentist will then use a series of small files to clean, shape and enlarge the root canals facilitating the placement of an insert rubber-like filling material.
If the treatment is carried out over a number of visits, a small pledget of bactericidal medication may be placed in the pulp chamber secured by a temporary filling. Once completed the root is then sealed and a conventional filling placed. Root filled teeth are more likely to break than healthy unrestored teeth, so your dentist may suggest placing a crown to help prevent this occurrence.
A root filling can sometimes be a complex procedure and is an NHS Band 2 Treatment. If your dentist can foresee problems with carrying out this treatment he may suggest a referral to a specialist.