Root canal fillings

Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury. The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. Local anaesthetic is used throughout the procedure to avoid any discomfort and the tooth will usually be isolated to keep the area dry and clear.

Microscope

High magnification with loupes or an operating microscope are routinely used to visualize the nerve canals which can be very small or hidden.  We have a Zeiss operating microscope which can magnify up to 25x which allows us to find any missing canals, check for any defects in the roots and ensure the canals have been cleaned thoroughly.

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The root is cleaned and disinfected and then filled with gutta percha to prevent any further infection occurring. All root canal procedures are carried out using single use instruments, the most up to date technology and the latest materials.  Root treatments on back teeth can be more complicated because they have a more nerve canals, typically up to three or four.

Once filled it is usually advised that the back teeth are crowned to prevent tooth fracture in the future.   Root filled teeth are more prone to fracture than teeth with intact nerves.  Occasionally there is often post-operative discomfort which is short-lived and usually contained with analgesics.

Retreatments

Root canal

Root fillings can fail and where this has happened, and the tooth is worth saving, a retreatment can be done.  This involves removing the existing root filling or broken instrument and disinfecting the root canal system. A new root filling is placed as before.  Retreatments are usually done over one or two appointments depending on the degree of complexity.  Crowns are also recommended for these teeth after the root filling is complete.

Further information on root fillings can be found on the British Endodontic Society website.

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