Sometimes followed by a crown, are a way of saving a tooth where bacteria has entered the tooth and caused the nerve and soft tissue to die.
A root filling that has the time and skill devoted to it can be highly effective at prolonging the life of a tooth considerably.
Your dentist will explain the options when a root filling is appropriate.
Root canal fillings are performed when the nerve or blood supply to the tooth is infected or damaged. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
Root canal treatment (RCT) is called endodontics and is a specialism within dentistry. An endodontist specialises in RCT and you may be referred if you wish to be or for particularly complex cases.
RCT is completed in two visits of upto 90 minutes each. When the RCT is completed the crown of the tooth either receives a filling or a crown is placed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are root fillings always successful?
Root canal fillings are a very successful treatment, with success rates well over 90% for many teeth. Obviously some cases do fail, most commonly when teeth are either very broken down or have an unusually complex root structure. Failure can also occur when the root canals are infected with bacteria that are resistant to the anti-bacterial pastes that are used.
Why does a root filling cost so much more than a normal filling?
A root canal filling takes much longer than a routine filling, usually over two visits and the fees reflect this. As well as the extra time, root canal fillings also require a great deal of specialist equipment and extra training, which adds to the overall cost.
Do root fillings hurt?
With careful use of local anaesthetic a root canal filling can be completely painless from start to finish. When a root canal filling is being done to a tooth that has been causing toothache, it will take the pain away and leave the patient feeling much better.
My dentist says I need a root filling but the tooth doesn’t hurt me, so why should I bother?
When a tooth has died off there is often no pain from it, usually because the pulp has been destroyed. Although there is no pain, there will be infection present that will lead to an abscess. Early treatment of the tooth will remove this infection before it worsens and will prevent the abscess from becoming a problem.
If I don’t want a root filling what other choices have I got?
Once the pulp of the tooth has become irreversibly damaged then a root canal filling is the only way of keeping the tooth. The only alternative treatment is to extract the tooth. Before making a decision on whether to save a tooth or not, any patient should consider how much it would cost to replace the tooth, and how this work will affect the teeth round about. Keeping the tooth with a root canal filling is usually the cheapest, least destructive option.