Root canal therapy is a process that is carried out within the root canals of the tooth. These canals run vertically within the roots of a tooth. In health, the canals house a functional nerve, and blood vessels. Once the nerve and the blood vessels ‘die off,’ (usually due to bacterial contamination) then the canals need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to a special sealant being inserted to prevent any further bacterial challenge. Root canal therapy is often necessary for other reasons such as severe or chronic trauma, and when the tooth is so heavily broken down that the root canals are needed to support the final restoration. In the latter case, Titanium or reinforced ceramic posts are first cemented into the root canals.
Teeth that have undergone root canal therapy are weakened. This is not only because of the original breakdown or cavity within the tooth but also because a hole has to made deep within the tooth to allow the Endodontist access to the root canals for treatment. For this reason, teeth that have undergone root canal therapy often require additional treatment with a crown to add further strength.
Teeth that have undergone root canal therapy require careful monitoring thereafter. This takes the form of clinical assessment and Xrays which are taken at regular intervals of between one and three years.