The Health Centre Dental Practice

Friendly gentle dental care for all the family

Root Canal Treatment

What is endodontic treatment?

Endodontic treatment removes infected or damaged tissue from inside a tooth. This tissue, called the pulp, contains nerves and blood vessels that help nourish the tooth. After the pulp is removed, the pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned, disinfected, filled and sealed. It is, along with appropriate restoration, a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and then placement of a bridge or an implant.

There is no real substitute for your own tooth in terms of health and investment.

What caused the problem with my tooth?

The most common cause of pulp damage is severe decay or a fracture that exposes the pulp to bacteria that may cause infection. Other causes of pulp damage include traumatic injury such as a blow to the mouth, a cracked or loose filling or repeated fillings in a tooth, and occasionally periodontal (gum) disease.

How many appointments are necessary?

Sometimes endodontic therapy is completed in one appointment but two or three visits may be necessary.We aim to complete most appointments over two visits but often in one longer appointment.

How long will the tooth last?

With proper restoration and care it may last a lifetime. Proper dental care includes regular brushing and flossing, proper diet and regular dental check-ups.

Does endodontic therapy hurt?

With the use of modern techniques, root canal therapy typically involves little or no discomfort. Often there is pain before treatment and endodontic therapy provides relief. Cleaning the root canals may cause some slight tenderness but usually over-the-counter pain killers alleviate the discomfort.If pain persists or if you experience severe pain, call your dentist.

How much does endodontic treatment cost?

Root Canal Treatment is Band 2 on the NHS. Sometimes there is a clinical need for a tooth to be looked at by a specialist and this is normally done on a private basis. Your dentist will be able to assess and let you know what is recommended at your appointment.

Can all teeth be treated endodontically?

Occasionally a tooth cannot be saved. Endodontic treatment can be performed only if the root canals are accessible and can be adequately cleaned and sealed. The tooth must also have sufficient bone support. We only carry out treatment where we can give a good long term outlook.

Can the treatment fail?

Endodontic treatment can have success rates of up to 90% in general, if carried out to a good standard, allowing the tooth to remain in function. Problems can occur if the tooth develops decay or the restoration on the tooth fails, or on occasions despite good care the tooth may not heal as expected. Further endodontic treatment or surgery may be carried out if appropriate. A tooth that develops a crack can also be a cause of failure and may result in loss of the tooth.

What do I do after endodontic treatment is completed?

Usually a definitive restoration of the tooth is required and it may be that your dentists will advise on a restoration that protects the tooth from future fracture such as an inlay or a crown if the remaining tooth left considerably weakened.

What is Endodontic Re-treatment?

Teeth that have had endodontic (root canal) treatment can last as long as natural teeth, however, in some cases the treatment can fail or symptoms can persist. This may happen shortly after the treatment has been performed or even years following the treatment. In these cases it may be possible to carry out the treatment again, a procedure called endodontic re-treatment. This tends to be when you will be referred to an Endodontic Specialist although some dentists will repeat the process in your surgery.

Why does the treatment fail?

Endodontic treatment can fail for a number of reasons: it was not possible to treat narrow or curved canals well enough or the canals were not fully cleaned during the initial procedure; the tooth may have additional complicated anatomy that was not found on the initial treatment; the final restoration was not placed quickly enough or the final restoration leaked due to a poor fit, fracture or recurrent decay around it.

Examples of Treatments


Upper left canine with infection

Upper left canine after cleaning, shaping and root filling




Both upper left second premolar and first molar require root canal treatment


Completed root canal treatment and a crown to restore the heavily filled first molar

Root canal treatment is required to conserve this tooth which has been fractured through a traumatic fall.  The tooth was restored using a minimal approach with tooth coloured composite filling material to preserve as much tooth as possible in this young patient.


After root canal treatment and restoration



Endodontic treatment saves teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted. Although the pulp is removed, the treated tooth remains alive, nourished by the surrounding tissues. There is no real substitute for your own tooth in terms of health and investment.