Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment (endodontics) is a dental procedure used to treat infection at the centre of a tooth (the root canal system).
The infection is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and invade the tooth. This can happen after:
A tooth is made up of two parts. The crown is the top part of the tooth that's visible in the mouth. The root extends into the bone of the jaw, anchoring the tooth in position.
Teeth also consist of:
The root canal system contains the dental pulp and extends from the crown of the tooth to the end of the root. A single tooth can have more than one root canal.
Root canal treatment is only required when dental X-rays show that the pulp has been damaged by a bacterial infection. The pulp will begin to die if it's infected by bacteria, allowing the bacteria to then multiply and spread.
The symptoms of a pulp infection include:
As the infection progresses, these symptoms often disappear as the pulp dies. Your tooth then appears to have healed, but the infection has in fact spread through the root canal system.
Further symptoms eventually occur, such as:
It's important to see your dentist if you develop toothache. If your tooth is infected, the pulp can't heal by itself.
Leaving the infected tooth in your mouth may make it worse. There may also be less chance of the root canal treatment working if the infection within your tooth becomes established.
Antibiotics – medication to treat bacterial infections – aren't effective in treating root canal infections.
To treat the infection in the root canal, the bacteria need to be removed. This can be done by either:
However, removing the tooth isn't usually recommended as it's better to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible.
After the bacteria have been removed, the root canal will be filled and the tooth sealed with a filling or crown. In most cases the inflamed tissue near the tooth will heal naturally.
Before having root canal treatment, you'll usually be given a local anaesthetic. This means the procedure shouldn't be painful and should be no more unpleasant than having a filling.
Root canal treatment is usually successful. In about 9 out of 10 cases a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment.
It's important to look after your teeth when recovering from root canal treatment. You should avoid biting on hard foods until all of your treatment is complete.
After your final treatment, your restored tooth shouldn't be painful, although it may feel sensitive for a few days.
Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be used to relieve any discomfort. Return to your dentist if you continue to experience pain or swelling after using painkillers.
In most cases it's possible to prevent the need for further root canal treatment by:
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over a tooth - to cover the tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance.
The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
A dental crown may be needed in the following situations:
What Types of Crowns Are Available?
Permanent crowns can be made from stainless steel, all metal (such as gold or another alloy), porcelain-fused-to-metal, all resin, or all ceramic.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be colour matched to your adjacent teeth (unlike the metallic crowns). However, more wearing to the opposing teeth occurs with this crown type compared with metal or resin crowns. The crown's porcelain portion can also chip or break off. Next to all-ceramic crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look most like normal teeth. However, sometimes the metal underlying the crown's porcelain can show through as a dark line, especially at the gum line and even more so if your gums recede. These crowns can be a good choice for front or back teeth as well as long bridges where the metal is needed for strength.
All-resin dental crowns are less expensive than other crown types. However, they wear down over time and are more prone to fractures than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
All-ceramic or all-porcelain dental crowns provide better natural colour match than any other crown type and may be more suitable for people with metal allergies. All-ceramic crowns can be used for front and back teeth.
Temporary versus permanent. Temporary crowns can be made in your dentist's office, whereas most permanent crowns are made in a dental laboratory. Typically, temporary crowns are made of an acrylic-based material or stainless steel and can be used as a temporary restoration until a permanent crown is constructed by a lab.
Dental bridges are false teeth, which are anchored onto neighbouring teeth in order to replace one or more missing teeth.
The false tooth is known as a pontic and is fused in between two crowns that serve as anchors by attaching to the teeth on each side of the false tooth, thereby bridging them together.
There are three main types of dental bridges:
This is the most commonly used type of bridge and consists of a pontic fused between two porcelain crowns that are anchored on neighbouring teeth or implants. The pontic is usually made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. These are fixed and cannot be removed.
These are chosen when the gap to be filled is in between the front teeth, or when the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are strong and healthy without large fillings. The false tooth is made of plastic and is fused to metal bands that are bonded to the adjacent teeth using resin that is hidden from view.
These are opted for in areas such as the front teeth that are susceptible to lower stress. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth present on only one side of the space, where the false tooth is anchored to one or more adjacent teeth on one side.
A dental bridge essentially consists of:
Missing teeth can be replaced for many reasons:
Bridges are recommended when there are one or more teeth missing that affect:
Bridges may be made of