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What is a Root Canal Treatment?

Root Canals are covered on all of our dental insurance policies with Bupa and Unum.

If you want to ensure that you get the best care if you need to claim for a Root Canal, sign up for one of our dental insurance policies today to ensure the oral health and dental hygiene of you and your employees.

Root Canals are one of the most common treatments that we see when claims are made for dental insurance.  Their high price, even on the NHS often surprises people, so this is one of the many reasons that we recommend taking out a dental insurance policy to avoid the shock of high dental charges when you are sitting in the dentist's chair.

Covering your staff for their dental treatments, especially root canals is a great way to look after the health and wellbeing of your workforce.

What is a root canal?

All of your teeth have roots that attach them to your jawbone.  Inside each of your teeth is a mixture of nerves and blood vessels, known as 'pulp'.  The pulp sits within an area called the 'pulp chamber' and this extends down to the tooth roots.  The pulp chamber within the root is called the root canal.  When this pulp becomes infected by bacteria or other damage, this is when the need for a root canal arises.

When do you need a root canal?

A root canal is required when there is inflammation or infection inside a tooth. This treatment means that you should avoid having your tooth removed if caught early enough.  If you are receiving regular oral care, a root canal should not occur as your dentist will be able to see more easily any upcoming dental issues.

When your tooth is damaged, this allows bacteria to get inside, spread and build up and cause irritation, pain and swelling.   If the pulp inside the tooth becomes infected, this can spread into the pulp inside the root canal.

You may need root canal treatment for a number of reasons, including:

  • Severe tooth decay

  • Repeated dental treatment on the tooth

  • A cracked tooth

  • A broken crown

  • Cracked or loose fillings

  • Gum disease

  • An injury, such as a blow to your mouth, a more common occurrence from sports people

If the damage is too bad to your tooth, the dentist may not be able to carry out this treatment and you may need the tooth removed.

What happens during root canal treatment?

Once the area is numb, your dentist will place a thin rubber sheet inside your mouth. This is called a dental dam and covers everything except the tooth being worked on. It helps to keep the area around the tooth clean and stop the spread of any infection.

Using a drill, your dentist will make a hole in the top of your tooth and remove the pulp. They will clean out the empty hole using small instruments and a liquid to irrigate and disinfect the inside of the tooth. The instruments help to make the canals a more regular shape to enable the tooth to be filled and cleaned more precisely. The irrigating liquid makes sure that all infected material is flushed out.

Once the tooth is clean, your dentist will fill and seal it. Unless the dentist is sure that all infection has been removed, they will put in a temporary filling. You then have a second appointment to have the tooth permanently filled.

If your tooth is badly worn or is at risk of further damage, your dentist may suggest having a crown fitted. This is an artificial cap that fits over your tooth. You’re more likely to need a crown if you’re having one of your back teeth treated, because these are used for chewing.

After the treatment, it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into your jaw and face. Take special care not to bump or knock the area. You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort after the anaesthetic wears off and for the next couple of days. 

After your treatment, it's important to take care of your repaired tooth. These tips will help to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste

  • Rinse your mouth with a mouthwash, if your dentist recommends it

  • Clean in between your teeth every day, either using floss or inter-dental brushes

  • Don’t smoke

  • Try to limit sugary foods and drinks and only have them at mealtimes

  • See your dentist regularly for check-ups

Complications of root canal treatment

Complications are when problems occur during or after treatment. All medical and dental procedures come with some risk. But how these risks apply to you will be different from how they apply to others. Be sure to ask for more information if you have any concerns.

Most root canal treatment is successful, but sometimes further problems can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Damage to the root canal or the tissue surrounding the tooth

  • Infection

  • Damage to the nerves around the tooth


If your root canal treatment doesn’t work, you may be advised to have more treatment. This is called re-treatment. You might also need re-treatment if your symptoms return years after you’ve had root canal.

If you are looking for a dental insurance plan to cover root canal treatment for you or your employees, please contact us today.

Contact us today

Call us on 0800 0857 123  or submit a form for a free quote

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