Endodontics is derived from the two Greek words endo meaning “within” and odons meaning “tooth.” Endodontics is generally known as root canal treatment and is the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease or injury to the dental pulp (the nerve and blood vessels within the tooth). Click on the graphic here to enlarge it and see a detailed description of the procedure.
The most common causes are deep decay, deep fillings, trauma (a knock to the tooth) and cracks.
When the living tissue within a tooth (pulp) is exposed to bacteria an infection will occur. In time the bacteria pass down the root canals and an infection builds up at the end of the root. Ultimately an abscess forms leading to destruction of the bone surrounding the root. Symptoms can range widely and include: severe pain with pressure, lingering aching after cold and especially hot drinks, deep throbbing toothache and swellings of the gum or face. Like many disease processes it is very common, however, for there to be no symptoms at all for long periods of time.
Antibiotics travel inside the bloodstream to the area of an infection. When a tooth becomes infected, it dies as the blood vessels in the tooth degenerate. So there is no blood supply to allow the antibiotics to get to the infection. This is why antibiotics do not work for dental infections. Antibiotics may be used to manage extreme toothache and swellings but the antibiotics are only working around the tooth. This is called “palliative treatment”, as it is the symptoms, not the cause, that the antibiotics are treating. The cause can only be treated with root canal treatment or removal of the tooth.
The infected dental pulp is cleaned away, the inside of the roots (the root canals) are also cleaned and enlarged. The root canal system is then sealed (or filled) to prevent infection from seeping into the root canals again. Where possible we try to complete all the treatment in one visit. Sometimes we need two visits, if so; all the cleaning is done on the first visit and filling of the canals is done on the second visit. Click on the graphic here to enlarge it and see a detailed description of the procedure.
The only alternative is to have the tooth removed. This can lead to surrounding teeth drifting into the gap and causing a whole range of further problems. Replacing a lost tooth with a fixed bridge or dental implant may be possible, but there are significant disadvantages to both these options. Keeping your natural tooth will be cheaper, more comfortable, and easier to maintain than a bridge or implant.
No. The modern local anaesthetics we use are very effective. We also use special techniques when administering the local to make it even more effective. Due to the length of the procedure and the comfort of our dental chair, a great many people actually fall sleep during the treatment.
Darkening of a tooth is highly unlikely, especially when the root canal treatment has been performed to a high standard. Bleaching such teeth from the inside will predictably solve the problem. Internal bleaching of teeth is a complex procedure and many dentists prefer to have Henk carry it out.
We can provide an intravenous sedation service, however, due to the length of endodontic treatment visits, intravenous sedation significantly increases treatment costs. If you are very anxious about dental treatment then we can give you a prescription for an oral sedative and this generally works very well.
If you do take such medication, you will need someone to drive you to and from the treatment appointment.