Root canal treatment Information sheet

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Endodontics is the treatment of the canal or pulp chamber that lies within the tooth and the root. It is recommended as an attempt to prevent the tooth’s premature loss. If no treatment is carried out, there is a risk of infection, pain and/or loss of the tooth.

Please note side effects and complications are uncommon to rare and we at Smile Cliniq would hope our rate is even less than the norm, due to the techniques and materials we use.  Also bear in mind the complications are no different to any root canal treatments you may have had previously.

Root canal treatment is normally recommended when a diagnosis of peri-apical periodontitis has been made, where there is inflammation/infection of the nerve tissues within the tooth or beneath the tooth.  It may also be recommended when the risk of nerve damage via decay is great and the dentist electively completes it to prevent future problems with the tooth.  It can also be recommended, if the dentist wishes to strengthen the future restoration (crown) with a post, which is placed into the canal after a root canal treatment.

Endodontic treatment is considered to be very safe and effective, with around a 86% chance of success. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and consequences of having this treatment.

Your treatment may take several visits over a few weeks to complete (although it is normally completed in one or two visits). During this time you may experience some discomfort in and around the tooth undergoing treatment. There is also a very small risk of swelling which typically resolves within a few weeks. As with all medical and dental procedures, there is a chance (around 14-16%) that root canal treatment may not be successful. In such cases, additional treatment may be necessary which may result in an additional treatments and costs to you. Examples of other corrective treatments include re-treatment with a specialist, apicectomy (surgical root tip therapy) or possibly extraction.

Once a tooth has been root canal treated, it tends to be more brittle and weak. For this reason, it is usually recommended to place a crown on the tooth for its protection. Without this precaution; there is a significant risk of the tooth fracturing over time which may then require extraction (if the fracture is deep).

Very occasionally, one of the delicate instruments used for this procedure can break off inside the tooth. If we are unable to remove the piece of instrument, it may be close enough to the end of the root that we may elect to leave it in place and fill the canal up to the obstruction. If, however, this is not an option or if it is attempted without success, you may require treatment by a root canal specialist which will entail an additional charge.

Occasionally there can be soreness and pain after a root canal treatment due to the treatment of peri-apical (beneath tooth) tissues.  These usually resolve after a few days and painkillers are recommended.

The obturation (filling) of the root canal, may be a little short from the tip of the root or in some cases extruded outside the tooth.  Usually, this does not cause a problem and the dentist may elect to leave the root canal filling like this.  On the rare occasion it does cause a problem the root canal treatment may need to be re-done, meaning more treatment and possible costs.

We invite your questions concerning this or related procedures and their risks

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