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Often people link root canal treatment with the idea of painful and frightening dental surgery.

Because of this misconception, instead of acting on our aches and pains people tend to shy away from treatment. But do you really know what a root canal treatment entails? And how do you know if it’s the right treatment for you? Here at Geoffrey Deeb Dental in Holland Park, we value the health of each and every tooth we treat. Take some time today to understand firstly what those pearly whites are made up of, what a root canal treatment really is and what symptoms may lead to needing it.

Knowing your teeth inside and out

Before we go into detail about the treatment, it may be easier to make sense of it all if you know a little bit more about your teeth! Each tooth is composed of four different parts:

1. The visible part of the tooth is the enamel. Believe it or not, this protective layer surrounding the tooth is the hardest substance found in the human body. Unfortunately being the most outer layer of the tooth, damage to the enamel is often one of the most common reasons people drop by our practice.

2. Just below the layer of enamel is the largest part of the tooth known as dentin. It is harder than bone, but softer than enamel and offers another layer of protection for the nerves it surrounds.

3. Inside the layer of dentin and enamel is the dental pulp. As the most sensitive part of the tooth, the pulp is made up of nerve tissues that create the feeling you get when you bite into a really cold ice-cream; along with other senses you feel in your teeth. The pulp supplies the nutrients to keep the dentin strong and protective.

4. Finally theres the cementum. This last part works like glue, holding the root in place and stopping the tooth from falling from your mouth.

What is a root canal treatment?

Although the treatment sounds a little frightening, today’s root canal treatment is pretty similar to getting a filling and can generally be done in just one or two sittings. The typical root canal treatment would follow a pretty straightforward procedure.

• Firstly, if necessary we would use a local anaesthetic to numb the area

• The tooth would then be wrapped in a thin rubber, and the affected parts of the tooth would be removed

• The pulp would be taken out, the root canal would be carefully cleaned and the surface smoothed; getting rid of all the bacteria and infection

• After that, the canal is disinfected and dried

If any infection still remains we will put some medication inside, seal your tooth with a temporary filling and organise another appointment – it could take a couple of goes if your tooth still has a bit of bacteria hanging around. Once infection-free, we will seal your root canal with tough, long-lasting rubber based material and cover it with a filling. Sometimes if the tooth has a lost a fair bit of structure you could also need a crown, but we fill you in on all the details when once we’ve properly assessed all your needs at Geoffrey Deeb Dental.

How to know if you need it

Root canal treatment becomes necessary when the pulp becomes damaged. As the nerve tissue breaks down, bacteria can multiply causing you pain. Different symptoms you may feel could include (but is not limited to) swelling and soreness around the gums otherwise the tooth could be aching continuously or may have had a history of pain.

In some cases, you might not even know there is a problem because the cells in your body are working hard to contain the infection around the tooth. But eventually, if you have a bit of a down-day where your immune system is weak, the virus can become inflamed – making an abscess (small pocket of pus) which can cause your neck and face to painfully swell.

Understanding is the first step, but by booking in and having regular check-ups and X-rays with Dr Geoffrey Deeb at Geoffrey Deeb Dental, Holland Park, you able to attack the problem at the source – maybe even before symptoms emerge.