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Root canal treatment

Root canal treatment is a process for saving teeth that have an infected or irreversibly inflamed pulp.  The pulp is a soft tissue mass of blood vessels and nerve endings which normally supply sensation to a tooth.  Damage to the pulp can occur as a result of deep dental decay, deep previous restorations (fillings), cracks in teeth or dental trauma.  Inflammation or infection of the pulp can present as pain or swelling


Root canal treatment involves removal of the infected pulp and disinfection of this tooth interior to remove residual bacteria.  The canals inside the tooth are cleaned and shaped in order to receive a root filling made out of an inert material called gutta percha.  Following this, the overlying damaged part of the tooth is restored and the tooth should be protected against future fracture.


To retain root-filled teeth over the long-term, it is vital that root canal treatment is performed to a high standard and the tooth is protected by a well-designed overlying filling, onlay or crown.  Teeth that are inadequately disinfected can show signs of pain or infection in future years. Root-filled teeth are also more prone to fracture and often require specially designed restorations to protect them against this.