What is a root filling and why might I need one?
A root filling is required when the nerve in a tooth dies. This may happen for a number of reasons. The nerve often dies in heavily filled teeth, or if a tooth is knocked in an accident (see tips on preventing these
). Teeth with big cavities, or broken teeth, may also cause the nerve to die, this often, but not always, presents as an abscess with pain and/or swelling. At this point you will need either a root filling or extraction of the affected tooth.
A root filling is the process by which the dentist removes the dead or dying nerve from the centre of a tooth (root canal) then cleans, files and shapes the root canal to get rid of any infected or potentially infected material. It is then filled with an inert radiopaque root filling (usually gutta percha, which is a rubbery material). Once this has been completed the tooth is ready for a filling or a crown to rebuild it to full form and function. Root filled teeth tend to be rather brittle so a crown is often the preferred restoration since this can reinforce the tooth to some extent.