Endodontic root treatments

The term ‘endodontics’ refers to an area of dentistry which deals with problems related to inside of the tooth such as the pulp, root canal and roots.

The pulp is the soft area within the hard area of the tooth (dentin) which runs from the top part (crown) down to the root at the bottom. The root is the part of the tooth which is located within the jawbone.

The root canal is as the name says: it is a channel which is located inside the root of the tooth.

Endodontic treatment is undertaken on decayed or damaged teeth as a result of tooth decay although it can also be undertaken for cosmetic reasons.

Basically, there is root treatment for an infection and root treatment which is performed to enhance the condition of a tooth, e.g. tooth bleaching.

Signs of an endodontic problem

If you experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, gum tenderness, tooth sensitivity and tooth discolouration then these are warning signs of a root canal problem. 

Types of endodontic procedures

There are a range of procedures which treat conditions of both the pulp and the root canal but in this section we focus on root treatments only.

There are various types of procedures for root disease which include:

  • Root end re-section
  • Root end filling
  • Endodontic implant
  • Post and core repair
  • Surgical removal of diseased tissues
  • Repairing a fractured root
  • Replacing a tooth knocked out due to an injury
  • Tooth bleaching (includes the enamel and dentin)

Root end re-section

This is the removal of the end of the root and the diseased tissue surrounding that root. It is usually performed to treat an abscess.

Root end filling

This is similar to the normal tooth filling in that material is placed into the root tip to prevent further spread of an infection. It helps to seal the end of the root tip.

Endodontic implant

This is a small metal rod, similar to a dental implant, which is inserted via the root canal into the root tip (known as the periapical bone structure). 

The difference between this and a dental implant is that the implant is inserted into the jawbone whereas the endodontic implant is placed into the root canal.

Post and core repair

This is a procedure which is performed to save a diseased tooth, and helps to strengthen it as well. It is comprised of a small metal rod which is fixed into the root of the diseased tooth, followed by the insertion of the post into the root canal.

The core is the part which is seen above the gum and is used to attach a replacement crown to.

Surgical removal of diseased tissues

This is the removal of tissues which have become diseased as a result of a root canal infection or a tooth abscess.

Repairing a fractured root

A tooth can easily fracture, usually as a result of an injury or from biting onto something hard. This causes a crack to appear in the tooth. If this occurs in the root then it may be possible to save the tooth via root canal treatment and the insertion of two posts to support it. A crown is then placed onto the tooth.

Replacing a tooth knocked out due to injury

Teeth can be knocked out as a result of contact sports such as rugby or an accident. If this occurs then the gap left by the tooth will require repair before the insertion of a replacement tooth/teeth.

Tooth bleaching

This is often carried out for cosmetic purposes such as a teeth whitening procedure. The aim is to achieve a bright, white smile or what is often known as a ‘Hollywood smile’.

Endodontic treatment covers a wide range of problems such as an infected pulp and/or root canal, tooth fracture and repeated dental work on a tooth. But there are occasions where this fails to work or the tooth is severely damaged.

A tooth extraction is the only solution in this situation. The tooth is removed if the roots have been seriously damaged, the root canal is inaccessible or the tooth can not be restored via an implant or post and core repair.       

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