Root canal or endodontic treatment is a process whereby inflamed or dead pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth, enabling a tooth that was causing pain to be saved.
Dental pulp is the soft tissue in the canal that runs through the centre of a tooth. Once a tooth is fully formed it can function normally without its pulp and be kept indefinitely.
After removing the pulp, the root canals are cleaned, sterilised and shaped to a form that can be completely sealed with a filling material to prevent further infection. The treatment can take several appointments, depending on how complex the tooth is, and how long the infection takes to clear.
Subsequently a crown or complex restoration to restore or protect the tooth may be a necessary recommendation, as a tooth after undergoing treatment may be more likely to fracture.
Signs you may need a root canal include:
- Severe toothache, pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold temperatures
- Discolouration (or darkening) of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
- Sometimes no symptoms are present
Will I feel pain during or following the procedure?
The main purpose of endodontic procedures is to relieve pain caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques, technology and specially developed instruments and anaesthetics, the vast majority of patients report they are completely comfortable and relaxed during their procedure.
For several days after treatment (and occasionally longer), your tooth may be sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can usually be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medication. Antibiotics are not usually required.
Is treatment always successful?
Endodontic treatment in general has a very high success rate. However, we will discuss the prognosis of your individual tooth with you prior to treatment. It is not possible to guarantee success as people have varied healing responses and some infections respond differently. Studies have shown that vast majority of endodontic treatment is successful and uneventful. If your case is considered less favourable, then you will be informed and advised of alternative treatment options.
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