What is a root canal infection, and why might your Bristol dentist need to treat it?

What is a root canal infection?

Every one of your teeth has a root canal. Some teeth have more than one. Each root contains dental pulp, the soft tissue at the heart of every tooth, and each root canal extends from crown (the part of the tooth you can see) to the end of the root (the part of each tooth you can’t see, which is embedded in your gum and jaw).

A root canal becomes infected when bacteria manages to enter it. This might happen as a result of tooth decay or some other damage to your teeth (for example, a fall). If bacteria enters your root canal it will attack the pulp. As the bacteria makes its way along the canal the tissue around the end of the tooth will become painful and swollen. It’s at this point you’ll need to visit your Bristol dentist, where we will either have to remove the tooth (if the bacteria has killed it) or attempt to save it with root canal treatment.

What happens during root canal treatment?

We’ll remove the infected pulp and then seal the tooth with a filling or crown. You’ll usually have a local anaesthetic while this happens and the process should feel much the same as having a filling.

In the vast majority of cases the root canal treatments we carry out at our Bristol dental surgery do manage to save the tooth.

How do I minimise the need for further root canal treatment?

Since one of the major causes of root canal infection is tooth decay, keeping your teeth and gums healthy is the most effective way to avoid root canal problems. You can do that by following these tips:

• Diet: Limit the number of sugary and starchy foods and drinks you consume, especially between meals. Avoid them completely in the hour before you go to bed.

• Don’t smoke: It can make dental problems worse.

• Brush your teeth properly: Most of the people who visit our Bristol dental surgery brush their teeth at least twice a day, but not everyone brushes properly. Here’s how you can put that right:

– Brush every surface of your teeth – front, back and the biting surfaces. Gently brush your gums and tongue too.
– Use the right amount of fluoride for you (ask us for details).
– Take 2 minutes to brush – use a stopwatch or egg-timer to help.
– 2 minutes’ careful brushing of every corner of your mouth is far better than a shorter period of vigorous brushing as that can damage tooth enamel just as much as acid.
– Spit out any excess toothpaste after brushing, but don’t rinse your mouth. Let the toothpaste do its job.

• Visit your Bristol dentist: Visit us regularly at Lodge Causeway Dental Centre. Regular check-ups and the occasional scale and polish will help keep tooth decay – and root canal infection – at bay.

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