Root Canal Therapy – An Overview

Preserving an infected tooth and avoiding extraction.

In case you are someone who is terrified at the thought of having root canal treatment, let us reassure you that the procedure should be no more uncomfortable than many other invasive procedures.

Where the idea came from that is is an extremely painful procedure, nobody seems to know for sure but general opinion is that this probably arose from an era where x-rays were not available to detect if an abscess was present before starting the treatment.

Thankfully, at modern dental surgeries like the Cygnet Dental Practice, x-rays are always used to check beforehand, and where detected, treated appropriately before treatment commences.

Minimising discomfort

As with all invasive procedures, a local anaesthetic will be given beforehand. This is injected into the gum in the area of the procedure, and, within a minute or two, you will not be able to feel any pain at all. Naturally, you will feel some sensation during the procedure but this should be so minimal as to cause little concern. Once the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove the top section allowing access to the root canals where the infected soft pulp is stored. This pulp includes the nerves of the tooth, along with many tiny blood vessels. Infections in this area cannot be healed unfortunately and removal of the infected matter is the only option available.

Cleaning the canals

Once the infected pulp has been removed, this leave hollow canals which may still contain traces of bacteria. To fill them in this stage may well still lead to further problems later on. We therefore make sure that the canals are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before we fill them with a material called ‘gutta percha’, the filling of choice for this particular procedure.

Whilst potentially now in a functional state, it is rare indeed for a tooth to be left like this. Strength would be compromised and it would look unnatural too. To complete the tooth, a dental crown is usually added to the top of the tooth. Not only does this give your treated tooth significantly more strength, but creates a natural appearance; something which is even more important if it is a visible tooth that has been treated.


Once the procedure is complete, you will be left with a tooth that offers sufficient strength for regular everyday use. It is important though to remember that the tooth now contains no nerves and therefore it is possible to bite down too hard on something without realising it. This could cause the tooth to fracture, so it is advisable not to use the treated tooth for biting too vigorously on harder objects. Remember too, to make sure that you clean around the tooth when brushing and flossing. You could still lose the tooth if gum disease is allowed to take hold and advance untreated.

For further information about root canal treatment or any restorative or cosmetic dental procedure, our friendly team at the Cygnet Dental Practice are here to help you. We can be contacted during surgery hours by calling 01268 733078.