The main goal of root canal therapy is to relieve pain and “save” a tooth which has been damaged due to decay or infection which cannot be filled with simple filling. Usually pain disappears after the first appointment.
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
It’s always a first choice to save a natural tooth. Losing a tooth may lead to gaps, un-aesthetic, loss of function, and a replacement can be really expensive. Without Root canal treatment you may lose the compromised tooth forever.
Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.
Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.
How do know if I need one?
If a tooth has been badly damaged by decay that has reached the nerve, has an abscess, or is causing severe ongoing pain, chances are it will require root canal treatment.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold.
- Severe toothache pain.
- Sometimes no symptoms are present.
- Swelling and/or tenderness.
Reasons for root canal therapy
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
- Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
- Injury or trauma to the tooth.
Is it hurt?
This is the number one question asked by patients when informed that a root canal treatment is needed. One of the major misconceptions about root canal treatment is that it’s painful. The answer is NO, root canal should be not be a painful experience at all.
Today, techniques and technologies have come a long way that most root canal treatments performed under normal local anaesthetic in the chair are simple and completely painless.
However, if a tooth is found to be severely infected, it is often necessary to prescribe a course of antibiotics before commencing any treatment, to ensure that the anaesthetic works adequately. Your dentist will advise you if this is needed.
What does root canal therapy involve?
A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).
Root canal is completed in stages, (usually 3), with appointments spread out several weeks apart. To briefly summarise, the steps involved in root canal are as follows:
- Visit 1: Once we have explained the procedure to you with associated benefits and risks, and after gaining Consent from you, your tooth is anesthetized and isolated:
While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. The treatment starts with the removal all decay and damaged nerves, An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be treated with the placement of an antibiotic, analgesic paste to relieve pain and infection. A temporary filling is placed to seal the tooth.
- Visit 2: Usually 1 weeks later, the remaining dead tissue of the tooth will be removed, Cleaning and shaping the canals inside the tooth roots, placement of further antibiotic paste and temporary filling.
- Visit 3: Final cleaning and sealing up of all canals inside the tooth roots. the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.
After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.
You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.
What happens after my root canal is completed?
After treatment is completed, in most cases the tooth will require a ceramic crown soon after. The reason for this is to ensure that the tooth does not break or fracture, as often the remaining tooth enamel is very thin and weak following the procedure.
I really don’t want a root canal – Are there any other options?
If root canal is not an option for whatever reason, extraction and replacement with a dental implant is often the next best option. Our dentists will guide you through all the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision that you are comfortable and happy with.
While every treatment carries some risk of failures, root canal is usually a very successful treatment. It may last years if completed properly. Some cases are referred to specialists (Periodontists) to achieve best outcome.
Please consult our professional team for more information on root canal treatments.