When people ask us, ‘what is a root canal’ we usually tell them “it’s how we’re going to save your tooth”. Root canal treatment is sometimes the best and only way of saving a damaged tooth. And here at Smileworks we love teeth and don’t like extracting them if we can help it. The proper name for these types of treatments is endodontics – and you may hear them described this way or as root fillings or root treatment.
But sometimes your teeth get damaged by trauma or infected by decay. This can be as a result of poor oral hygiene. Bacteria gets through cracks in the enamel and deep down into the tooth root. This is the part of the tooth that is ‘alive’ and is susceptible to infection just like any part of your body. It’s also the part that can cause you pain.
Most people who need root canals come to see us because they’re in pain. The infection inside the tooth can cause swelling and pain and build up pressure. This can manifest as either ‘hot pulp’ which feels like painful toothache, extreme sensitivity or an abscess. Sometimes patients will come in with dreadful pain and swelling in that side of their face. This is different to the pain caused by cavities and failing fillings. We can replace old fillings for you and remove the painful tooth root sometimes without the need for a root canal.
If you are experiencing pain then you can make an emergency appointment by visiting our emergency dentist page here. We can get you out of pain pretty quickly and have you on the road to recovery in record time. So don’t be shy about making an emergency appointment if you have swelling or pain. Here’s a video explaining the procedure:
Not usually. At Smileworks our dentists will make sure you are completely numb before going anywhere near the hot pulp or anything that’s causing you pain. Local anesthesia is a wonderful thing. And we make sure people are the numbest they can possibly be.
Sometimes acute pulpitis can be very difficult to get numb where the tooth is innervated by one or more nerves. Your dentist will be creative about where they put the anaesthetic to make absolutely sure you will not feel pain. There are potentially 6 nerves that innovate the first molar and we have a multitude of creative and effectual ways of getting them all numb. So the procedure is rarely painful. A hot tooth can be hard to get numb no matter how talented your dentist is. And that is why time is something you need to get this procedure right.
So how does the root of the tooth become infected when it’s below the gum line? Here’s the structure of a tooth and the process of root canal treatment:
Tooth decay, broken or failing crowns or even fillings that have failed or fallen out can cause you to need endodontic treatment. Bacteria gets in the little cracks and fissures causes painful infections. Recently placed fillings can cause the nerve of the tooth to flare up. You are more likely to need root canal treatment or get an abscess if you:
Here at Smileworks we are conservative dentists. This means that we don’t like drilling or filing your teeth if we can help it. The reason for this is that as soon as we touch your tooth with the dentists drill, the chances of it failing and requiring subsequent treatment or even removal are dramatically increased.
This is why Braces and adult orthodontics are a better idea than traditional veneers if have the choice and composite bonding is better than porcelain veneers where appropriate as the damage to the individual tooth or teeth is likely to be less.
The root canal procedure involves completely numbing the area and then making a tiny hole in the tooth. A special file is used to carefully removing the infected material from inside the tooth. This is the nerve or ‘pulp’ that is causing you the pain. Because of the numbing you will not feel a thing. Many people complain that their root canals hurt and this makes here at Smileworks feel very sad. The only reason a root canal should hurt is if it’s rushed. And what we have plenty of here at Smileworks is time. Some molars are innovated by up to six different nerves and our dentists get seriously creative about making sure you won’t feel a thing.
Once you’re numb we can get all the infected material cleaned out the space and then irrigate it or flush it out with a cleaning solution. This is typically a chemical called chlorhexidine (contained in some mouthwash) or a weak hypochlorite solution. And what do we know about hypochlorite? It kills all known germs, dead. So this will give your tissue a good chance of recovering.
The space is then filled in with a special material and the hole is filled in and your tooth is restored to it’s healthy, pain-free and functional old self. The reason the space is filled in is because any space is liable to fill back up with bacteria. So we use a rubber-like material to fill the space so nothing can get in and cause you any more problems.
Here's the 2018 Root Canal Prices at Smileworks for Root canals and re-root treatments
Here are the costs for your root canal treatment in 2018. Remember the reason you are paying is because here at Smileworks we will make sure we take the time to get you numb and do the work using the most advanced materials and machinery available. Dr Rowland-Warmann likens root fillings to cleaning out the cupboard under the stairs through the keyhole, in the dark. Root canal treatments require attention, skill and are often complex treatments so they need to be planned and managed accordingly. So microscopes, special lights, CBCT scanners and apex locators are all a good idea. And then there’s time. Often the difference-maker between pain and failure and happiness and success.
The NHS is a wonderful and noble service and we absolutely love and respect it here at Smileworks. Take a look at your root canal options here. It’s much, much cheaper than us. Many of our Smileworks dentists here have worked in the NHS and have done root canals but they (and any conscientious dentist will tell you) they’d rather work in an environment where they can spend twice the time, use a microscope, have tools like apex-locators on hand and be able to diagnose using a CT scanner if necessary. Most of which, you’ll not find at your local NHS practice. So the decision is yours.
We take root canal safety very seriously at Smileworks and if you’ve ever had a root canal without a piece of safety apparatus called a ‘rubber dam’ then you need to change dentist. Here’s a picture of a Smileworks patient wearing a rubber dam. It basically stops anything nasty getting swallowed or inhaled during the procedure. The disco shades are an optional extra along with the Tom Jones root canal playlist…
Kids sometimes have root canals. One of the most common causes or children needing root canals is trauma to the front teeth. We don’t want to be extracting the central incisors of children, so if your child is happy and motivated and they understand the treatment then that’s fine and we will typically get excellent results. The intended outcomes and benefits need to be carefully explained to both parents and the children to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Strong painkillers will help in the short term but they will not fix the underlying issue and there is a strong likelihood that you may become addicted to some painkillers that will, in the end, cause you far more pain and suffering than even the worst visit to the dentist.
If you are an extremely anxious patient and concerned about your treatment, you may elect to be sedated for your root canal procedure. We can arrange this for you; we can discuss the fees involved in this at your consultation. Usually the scariest part of your root canal is listening to Tom Jones for the duration of your appointment (if it’s Dr Rowland-Warmann treating you. Read some of our reviews and see what people usually feel after their treatments with us. You’re in safe hands and we will make sure you are calm and comfortable throughout your appointment.
By the time you need a root canal, the nerve is past saving and needs to be removed along with the bacteria and inflamed material. So ‘saving the nerve’ is impossible.
For more myths see the FAQ section below.
Here are the most commonly asked questions about this treatment by our patients.