Endodontics, root canal treatment

The words “Root Canal treatment” are enough to make the majority of patients come out in a cold sweat. However root treatment (Endodontics) is a painless procedure. Endodontics on a tooth is required when the nerve inside the tooth has become infected.




This infection creates an abscess at the base of the root of the tooth and in turn can lead to pain on biting, or with hot and cold stimulation on the tooth.If the tooth is not treated at the start of symptoms, the abscess will continue to grow until it spreads into the surrounding tissues leading to a swollen face and tooth ache. Often at regular check-ups, an infection developing around a tooth can be detected on an x-ray before any symptoms have occurred.This is the ideal time to have the root canal treatment as the patient´s recollection of the procedure will be completely pain free and comparable to having a filling.

However, as nature would have it, patients rarely elect to have a root canal treatment if they have not experienced pain in the tooth! At Zen Smile Dental Clinic, we use only state of the art technology and magnification to give your root treatment the best rate of success.

What is endodontics?

Endodontics involves making a hole in the centre of the infected tooth to remove the nerve in 1, 2 ,3 or 4 canals (depending on the tooth), then disinfection of these canals with special products and motorised hi-tech instruments. Then at the end of the first appointment, a calming paste with an antibiotic is left within the canals for 1-2 weeks (depending on the infection). At the follow-up appointment the canals are meticulously measured, refined and filled with a thermoplastic material. This thermoplastic material effectively mummifies the tooth enabling us to keep the tooth in the mouth, although, in terms of nerve and blood supply, it is dead.

Why does my tooth need a crown?

It is because the tooth is “dead” that it will become weak and brittle and for this reason a root treated tooth is always restored with a crown. Sometimes a post and a core filling are required before placement of the crown to hold the structure together especially if part of the tooth already consisted of a large filling before the root treatment.

Why has my tooth become infected?

There are several reasons for an abscess developing around a tooth. The most common is decay in a tooth or beneath a filling or crown leading to bacteria travelling down to the nerve and infecting it. Sometimes on placement of a large filling, (although no decay is left beneath the filling) the tooth reacts adversely to such a large intervention and the nerve dies slowly leading to an infection and pain. In bruxists (people who grind their teeth), a tooth can die due to the constant pressure it is subjected to when the teeth repeatedly grind together. The most difficult abscess to resolve is that caused by gum disease, whereby the bacteria around the teeth have travelled to the base of the root and infected the tooth from the outside. In many cases, root treatment can save the tooth but sometimes the gum infection is too extensive and this will lead to failure of the root treatment and subsequent extraction of the tooth.

If I have no pain why do I need a root treatment

When a tooth is infected and has an abscess at the base of the root, the body´s immune system works to combat this infection. However when we are “low” or immune deficient, in times of stress or when we are ill, the body is rarely strong enough to fight both the infection in a tooth and an illness, consequently, the tooth will “flare up” when we are at our lowest and add insult to injury.