Root canal treatment / endodontics

Endodontic therapy, also known as “root canal” treatment, is necessary when the pulp of the tooth is injured and cannot naturally return to a healthy state, and has to be removed. Some people experience symptoms of pulp damage immediately, while others experience no discomfort for years.

The only alternative to root canal treatment is extraction. This is biologically costly and may be less desirable. When teeth are lost they require artificial replacement such as fixed or removable bridges or dental implants.

Why you need root canal treatment?

The pulp is the soft tissue found within the canal spaces of the tooth, and largely consists of tiny blood vessels and nerves. There are many potential ways tooth pulp can become diseased or necrotic. Deep fillings, decay, trauma and periodontal disease are common causes.


Signs and symptoms:

Indications for treatment include:

  • Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Tooth decay – if a tooth is very rotten, its nerves and blood vessels can die, leading to a painful abscess
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • Swelling of the gum adjacent to the tooth
  • Tenderness of the tooth especially to biting or adjacent gums. Sometimes there are no symptoms and the first sign of a problem maybe radiographic evidence corroborated with additional diagnostic testing by the dentist


After root canal therapy is completed, a crown is usually placed over the treated tooth as a means of ensuring its future integrity. A tooth that has been subjected to extensive restoration and/or root canal therapy is invariably weakened in the process. The crown functions as a protective “shell,” covering the tooth to help prevent it from cracking and breaking. It is important that the patient understands the value of this protective crown. The patient may jeopardises his or her entire investment without it. We urge all patients to follow this procedure when recommended.

Revision of root canal therapy:

Even though endodontic treatment is one of the most successful and predictable procedures in modern dentistry, failures can occur. Some indications of failure include swelling, soreness or the persistence of abscess at the root tip as identified in an X-ray. When this happens, a root canal revision procedure, also referred to as “retreatment,” may be warranted.

Reasons for root canal retreatment:

  • Retained microorganisms (bacteria) in the root canal
  • Breakdown or corrosion of root canal filling materials
  • Contamination from decay or leakage from a failing restoration
  • Inoperable canals because of calcification or unusual anatomy
  • Sometimes tissues fail to heal for unknown reasons

Although retreatment is technically more difficult than the original root canal, it can usually rescue a failing condition without having to consider surgery. We at Surbiton Dentist especially well equipped to handle these difficult conditions because of our additional training and experience.

Endodontic surgery:

Conventional root canal treatment is not always sufficient to correct every patient’s condition. Occasionally, endodontic surgery is required. This is because a previous treatment has deteriorated or because anatomic considerations such as the shape of the tooth or canal space make the traditional root canal treatment especially difficult to complete.


If you experience sensitivity following a root canal session, we recommend you take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen to reduce inflammation, which will in turn reduce pain. You may also want to apply ice to the outside of your face next to the tooth, keeping the head elevated.

Medication allergies:

If you are allergic to specific medications, please be sure to inform your dentist. If you notice sudden rash, nausea, sudden swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness or any other unusual symptoms after the use of the prescribed medications call the practice immediately.


Under no circumstances should you apply heat to the outside of your face. Consistent medication is the key to comfort. It is essential to follow your dentist orders by taking prescribed medications to alleviate pain and to help prevent or fight infection. If discomfort lasts more than a few days or if you have severe pain or swelling, call our office. We will suggest medication or other steps to make you more comfortable.


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