When the pulp tissue – the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue – is damaged and left untreated, it can lead to the formation of an abscess and severe pain, requiring the removal of the tooth as the infection spreads.

A root canal treatment is performed to protect and preserve the tooth by removing this damaged pulp tissue and treating the infections.

What happens if you leave your damaged pulp tissue untreated?
Neglecting treatment of your damaged pulp tissue can result in the following conditions

  • Abscess at the root of the affected tooth that destroys the underlying bone tissue requiring an eventual tooth extraction
  • Spreading of the infection to the adjacent teeth, resulting in fewer, face and neck swelling, blood poisoning

How to know if you have pulpal damage?
The common symptoms related with pulpal damage are as follows

  • Pain in the tooth when biting or chewing
  • Headaches
  • Teeth are overly sensitive to hot or cold drinks
  • Swelling in the face and neck

What causes damage to the pulp tissue?
Pulp damage can be caused by a variety of factors such as

  • Severe tooth decay or cavity in the tooth – such that harmful bacteria reach down to the nerve and cause infection and decay
  • Severe gum disease
  • Trauma to the tooth or the jaw – such as a blow, damaging the highly sensitive nerve tissue within the tooth

What happens during my initial consultation with the Leeds dentist?
The Leeds dentist will carefully examine your teeth and will perform a few diagnostic tests to confirm and analyse the extent of damage. These tests include

  • Visual examination – The Leeds dentist will carefully examine the tooth to detect any changes in colour that may have occurred
  • Electric pulp testing – During this test electric current is sent through the tooth to detect its vitality (not used in patients with a cardiac pacemaker or any other electronic life-support device).
  • Cold test – To test the cold sensitivity of the teeth using ice or ethyl chloride
  • Hot test – To test the hot sensitivity of the teeth using warm gutta-percha
  • Percussion test – The Leeds dentist will tap on the tooth to check if the infection has spread to the apex of the tooth
  • Radiographs – X-rays of the teeth are taken by the Leeds dentist, and if tooth apex appear darkened it is an indication for subsequent root canal treatment
  • Periodontal probing – A long thin instrument that is blunted at its end is used to measure the pocket depths around the tooth and assess the health of the gums and the requirement of root canal treatment

What are the instructions given by your Leeds dentist to follow before undergoing the root canal treatment?
The Leeds dentist will instruct you to

  • Prohibit the use of any aspirin for 10 days prior to treatment.
  • Avoid chewing on the side of the mouth that has the infection.
  • Sleep with the head in a raised position  
  • Follow a soft diet, avoiding hard, chewy and sticky foods
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages 12 hours prior to treatment
  • Avoid smoking for 12 hours prior to treatment

How will your Leeds dentist perform the root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment requires more than one appointment with your Leeds dentist
During the First appointment – Cleaning the infection and temporary sealing

  • The Leeds dentist will numb the area around the affected tooth
  • The dentist will then drill a small hole through the crown of the affected tooth
  • An X-ray is taken to measure the root canal. Alternatively an electric device called apex locator can be used to measure the root canal.
  • The Leeds dentist will then remove the infected pulp tissue and clean out the pulp chamber and root canal
  • The pulp chamber is then slightly enlarged and disinfected
  • Finally, the Leeds dentist seals the tooth temporarily
  • You are given antibiotics to take home, that aid in healing and prevent infections

At the Next appointment – 1 week later

  • The Leeds dentist confirms that no infection persists in the tooth
  • The canals are then filled with gutta-percha
  • The opening on the tooth is closed either by
    • filling it with cement
    • fabricating a crown and placing on it

What to expect immediately after the root canal procedure?

  • Your tooth will be sore for two to three days after the procedure
  • You may experience irritation due to soft tissue inflammation in the weeks following surgery
  • The Leeds dentist will prescribe pain medication to alleviate any such discomfort

Life after the root canal treatment
Pain management

  • Take the pain medication prescribed by your Leeds dentist to alleviate discomforts such as soreness, inflammation etc
  • Do not bend over or lift anything heavy for 2 to 3 days if this causes pain.
  • Place ice compresses for 15-20 minutes on the area to alleviate pain or swelling
  • Rinsing the mouth with hot salt water several times a day will help.

Diet and habit regime
The first few days following treatment

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages 48 hours after the treatment.
  • Avoid smoking for 72 hours after root canal therapy
  • Avoid chewing on the affected side
  • Eat a soft diet for 1-2 days after the first root canal visit.

Long time restrictions

  • Drink at least rink 6 to 8 glasses of liquid each day
  • Limit the consumption of sugary snacks, and the amount of caffeine in drinks, such as coffee, tea, and soda.

Dental Hygiene and maintenance
Brushing, rinsing and flossing

  • Brush the teeth or rinse the mouth 2 to 3 times every day especially after meals.
  • Brush the teeth and gums gently using a brush with soft bristles.
  • After brushing, floss the teeth and rinse using an anti-plaque mouthwash.

Preventing further damage

  • Avoid trauma and strain to the tooth to protect it from facture and chipping, since a pulpless tooth is more brittle than a non-treated tooth

Cosmetic improvement

  • Since a pulpless tooth may become discoloured over time, you can improve its aesthetic appearance through bleaching

Follow ups and dentist visits
Follow up

  • Schedule a follow up visit with your Leeds dentist on completion of six months following treatment.  The Leeds dentist will check to ensure that the tooth and surrounding structures are healthy

Regular check ups

  • Go to the Leeds dentist for regular check-ups in future as well to assess the condition of your treated as well as other teeth.

Emergency visits

  • Call the doctor In case any of the following occur immediately following treatment
    • a temperature over 100.4° F (38° C).
    • chills, weakness and pain
    • itchy or swollen skin
    • development of rashes