What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is carried out on a tooth where the nerve has died or is in the process of dying and cannot be saved. Once the nerve of a tooth is dead it can become discoloured and start to rot from the inside. It is important to act quickly to save your tooth.
It can be alarming to hear that you need a root canal, but try to think of it as just another type of filling – only in a deeper part of the tooth. Essentially it involves the mechanical cleaning out of the diseased nerve from the root canal, which is then filled with an inert material, usually gutta percha (the coagulated sap of certain tropical trees).
In many cases root canal treatment can be carried out without local anaesthetic. After the cleaning process, we irrigate the canal system with various medical solutions and then dry the canal with our final disinfection process using ozone therapy. This has been shown to vastly reduce bacterial contamination.
Some teeth have a single root canal and can be filled with an appropriate material to rebuild the tooth. Other teeth, especially at the back of the mouth, have two or three canals and may require rebuilding with a crown and sometimes a special core with posts. For the majority of our root canal treatments we use a system called K3 from Sybron Endo, a well recognised and established brand in the field of root canal treatment. A classic root canal is a minimally invasive type of endodontic therapy and does not require surgery.
What are fillings?
A filling replaces part of your tooth when it has been lost to decay or accidental damage. In conventional dentistry fillings were traditionally made of silver amalgam and were incredibly unsightly, not to mention destructive to the tooth which had to be all but destroyed in order to fit them.
Modern dentistry uses tooth coloured fillings, known as ‘white fillings’. They are very popular, and not just for newly discovered cavities – you may wish to have your old amalgam metal fillings replaced to improve the cosmetic appearance of your smile. White fillings are made of composite resin and glass ionmer and take a little longer to create and place than metal fillings, but the results are most definitely worth it.
We have a large colour selection to choose from to make the fillings match your existing teeth. Unlike silver ‘amalgam’ fillings, white fillings are bonded to the teeth so they can also be used to repair teeth, especially front teeth, that have been chipped, broken or decayed. They can also be used on your back teeth if there is not too much decay or damage.
How does the procedure work?
As with all treatments we will make sure your mouth is clean and otherwise healthy. We will then administer a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth we will be working on. The next step is to use a high-precision drill to remove any decay and the old filling. We wash and dry the tooth by blowing water and then air using a tool which looks like a water pistol. We then carefully place the composite filling material into or onto the tooth and shape it. We accelerate the hardening process by shining a light beam at the treatment area inside your mouth and then trim and polish the filling.
What are the benefits?White fillings come in a range of shades so they can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth. The composite material used in white fillings is sticky so it can be used to reshape and rebuild broken edges or worn teeth. It can also be used to cover marks (discolouration) that can’t be removed by cleaning or teeth whitening. An added advantage is that a tooth needs less preparation for a white filling than for a silver filling.
White fillings are not as strong as silver fillings so they may not be suitable for large fillings in back teeth. They also need very dry conditions, which can be hard to achieve at the back of your mouth. We will always do our best to fit a white filling wherever possible.