Saving a Tooth Through Endodontic Treatment

Root canal procedures at Mike Allen Dental in Burton on Trent

It is often presumed that most teeth are lost through breakages or decay of the external enamel. However, a surprising number of teeth are lost through infection of the inner part of the tooth, often called the pulp, which contains the nerves and many minor blood vessels.

When this happens, a simple filling will not save the tooth and endodontic surgery needs to be performed to preserve it. This procedure is often known as root canal treatment or therapy.

Procedure

To perform a root canal procedure, the endodontist (from the Greek, meaning ‘inside’ and ‘tooth’) will first of all take an x-ray to ensure that no abscesses are present. If one is detected, the procedure will be postponed whilst a course of antibiotics are prescribed to clear it. To perform the procedure with an abscess present could be very painful indeed for the patient and consequently this must be checked for and cleared before treatment begins.

Once the dentist is satisfied that there are no abscesses present, the area will be numbed using a powerful local anaesthetic to minimise any discomfort which may be felt during the root canal procedure.

When the anaesthetic has taken effect, the top of the tooth will then be removed and the inner soft pulp that has been infected will be taken out. This is usually done through a combination of suction and other specialist dental tools, sometimes referred to as endodontic files.

Once the infected pulp has been removed, the inner tooth and root canals will then be hollow. A special antibacterial agent is then used to remove any remaining bacteria that may cause future problems.

After this part of the procedure has been performed, the tooth is then filled and a crown usually added to the top. This may initially be a temporary crown to protect the tooth whilst your own personalised crown is produced at a dental laboratory.

Precautions

Having saved the tooth with the endodontic procedure, the natural tooth will have been preserved. It will, however, have no sensation due to the removal of the nerves contained within it.

Because of this, it is important for the patient to remember that the tooth will not be as strong as a natural tooth and to avoid using it overly aggressively by, for example,  biting down on very hard objects. This can, on occasions, cause breakage to the tooth.

Generally though, and with reasonable care, a tooth that has been preserved by a root canal procedure should survive for many years and avoid the need for more invasive methods such as replacing the lost tooth with a dental implant. If you think that you may require root canal therapy, please call the team at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice in Burton on Trent and we will be pleased to assist you.