Root canal treatment

General dental treatment icon

Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood supply or nerve of the tooth (also known as the pulp) has become infected through decay or injury.

What is a root canal

Every tooth starts by having both blood and nerve supply. These minute structures enter at the bottom of the root, proceed up the root through the root canal and form the pulp at the crown of the tooth. They supply the live tooth with blood, internal nutrients and feeling.

Why do I need root canal treatment ?

If the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, the infection may spread and eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which pus collects, with symptoms ranging from a dull ache to severe pain. If root canal treatment is not carried out, the infection is likely to spread and the tooth may end up having to be extracted.

Root canal treatment explained

Frequently asked questions

I heard that having a root canal is painful. Is that true?

Many people think root canal treatment is more painful than, say, having a filling. This is really a myth. In fact, the procedure is normally carried out under a local anaesthetic and should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. There may, in some cases, be some post-operative discomfort owing to the inflammation in the surrounding bone. This is usually managed by taking over the counter painkillers.

What if I don't have the treatment?

Most of the time this will lead to the infected tooth having to be removed as it is unlikely that it will heal itself.

Will the tooth be back to normal after treatment?

In most cases the tooth should return to normal. However, as there is now no blood supply to the tooth it is effectively “dead”. This means the tooth will be more brittle. It may be necessary to restore it with a crown or CEREC restoration to provide extra support and strength.

It is not uncommon for teeth to discolour or darken after having root canal treatment. This can however generally be resolved with tooth whitening techniques or even the placement of a ceramic crown.