Dental Root Canal Treatment

All of our teeth have roots which, just as the roots of a tree hold it securely in the ground, hold the teeth solidly in your jawbones. There are very fine canals that run through these teeth where infection can take hold.

There are various causes of this which include fillings that become loose and allow in infection, trauma to the tooth and tooth decay.

If there is an infection in the root canal, or canals, it needs treatment to remove the infection and to prevent it from re-occurring.

There are a number of symptoms that might point to a root canal issue and these include:

  • Acute pain in the tooth.
  • Sensitivity to heat, cold and pressure when biting or chewing.
  • Gum tenderness and swelling.
  • A bad taste or odour in your mouth.
  • Tooth discolouration.

Confirming root canal issues

The dentist will carry out a full examination as well as taking several X-rays of the affected tooth. This will help them to both see the extent of the infection as well as the structure of the root canal system.

Root Canal Treatment

Treatment for root canal work will normally take place over a number of appointments and will be carried out under local anaesthetic. The only exception is if the nerve in the tooth has died in which case no pain relief will be needed.

The dentist will remove the top of the affected tooth, called the crown, and carefully take out the pulp that fills the tooth cavity. This will remove most of the infection and give access to the root canal, or canals.

They can then use tiny files to enlarge to root canals so they can be filled to prevent further infection. This is very complex work so it may take several visits to complete it. Between them, a temporary filling will be inserted along with medicine to keep the inside of the tooth clean.

Once the work has been completed the dentist may recommend that a new crown is fitted to strengthen the tooth which will have been weakened by the process.


We will take as much care of patients’ dental health after the treatment has been completed as we did when carrying it out. So we will monitor the health of the affected tooth at all subsequent check-ups. If the infection does recur, we will repeat the process.

We appreciate that root canal treatment does have a reputation for being a long, painful process. But we take all the care that we can to try to make it no worse than having a filling.

Root Canal Treatment FAQ

How effective is root canal treatment?

When carried out well by experienced dentists it is very effective indeed. According to NHS figures, in 90% of case the tooth will survive for at least 10 years after treatment.

Why not remove the tooth instead?

It’s a key principle of modern dentistry that extractions should be avoided whenever possible. You only have one set of adult teeth in your life and it’s worth hanging on to them for as long as you possibly can as no replacement can work quite as effectively as a real tooth.

How many appointments does it take?

This depends on factors such as which tooth is affected and how severe the issue is. But generally it takes between one and three appointments to carry out root canal treatment.

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