When is a root canal required?

Root canal treatment (or endodontics) is required when there is an infection deep within your tooth. The blood or nerve supply may be infected either due to an injury or a severe cavity. You may not experience any pain or discomfort during the early stages of an infection, however if your tooth changes colour and darkens that is a sign that your tooth nerve is in danger of dying. If left untreated, this kind of infection can not only be very painful, but can lead to a tooth abscess or even tooth loss.

Five signs of infection:

  1. Serious toothache when eating, or when you put pressure on the tooth. Does it hurt when you bite down hard?
  2. Excessively sensitive teeth. Does the sensitive pain linger after the initial contact with hot or cold foods or drinks?
  3. Darkening of your tooth. Has your tooth changed colour? This may be a sign of the nerve dying.  
  4. A small bump on the gum, close to the painful tooth.
  5. Tender or swollen gums around the tooth.
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What does treatment involve? 

Root canal treatment removes all of the infection from the tooth, before sealing the tooth to protect the damaged nerve and restore you back to good oral health. When you first come into Stafford Street Dental & Implant Clinic we will take an x-ray to assess the status of the infection. Then a local anaesthesia is administered to the area and a piece of material called a ‘dental dam’ is placed around the tooth the keep it dry and accessible throughout the procedure. 

Once you are fully anaesthetised your dentist will carry out the procedure using an operating microscope. This enables them to see right into the inside of your tooth, to make sure all of the infected or inflamed material is removed, and then to carefully seal the inside of the tooth, preventing any further infection occurring.

Once it is clear, a compound is used to fill the tooth where the root canal tissue previously was. This is usually finished with a temporary filling. This is the completed stage of your first visit to Stafford Street Dental & Implant Clinic. Following this, we create a custom-made crown to fit your tooth and this is fitted at your second visit.

How do I avoid a root canal?

Root canal treatment can be avoided by practicing good dental care. Regular visits to your Edinburgh practice for check ups mean that your dentist is in a good position to pick up on any problems you may not have noticed. They will check any current fillings or crowns for damage or cracks. By treating issues in the early stages you avoid infections and further complications that would ultimately lead to endodontic treatment.

Tooth decay is one of the common reasons for root canal infections. You can keep tooth decay at bay by brushing and flossing regularly, chewing sugar-free gum between meals and reducing the amount of fizzy drinks and sugar in your diet.  

If you are experiencing tooth pain, contact Stafford Street Dental & Implant Clinic on 0131 225 7576 today to see if you require root canal treatment.

Why is it called a root canal?  

The visible part of your tooth, above the gumline is called the ‘crown’. Below the gum, fixing the tooth to the jaw, is the ‘root’ of your tooth. The root canal system is a network that fills a central hollow area inside the tooth and down to the roots. Root canals are filled with loose connective tissue called ‘dental pulp’ and they are responsible for nourishing and hydrating the tooth, as well as reacting to hot and and cold.

When an infection takes hold, it is this pulp which becomes inflamed, which is why it may be painful to eat or drink. Eventually a bacterial infection will cause the pulp to die. It is important to see your dentist if you are experiencing toothache, as the infection will not go away of its own accord and antibiotics cannot be used to treat a root canal infection.

If left untreated, a deep infection can spread through the whole root canal system of your tooth. In this case, the pain may subside, as the infection will have removed all of the pulp. Treatment to this area is now more important than ever as it becomes a chronic infection.

Contact Stafford Stafford Street Dental & Implant Clinic in Edinburgh on 0131 225 7576 today to make an appointment.

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