Endodontic Treatment (Root Canal)
Gone are the days when badly decayed and infected teeth were removed as the first treatment option. Thanks to improved dental technology, endodontic treatment (root canal) allows your natural tooth to be restored.
Within each tooth is dental pulp. This pulp is made up of blood vessels, tissue fibres and nerves that help regulate the growth of the tooth by providing oxygen and nutrients. If dental pulp becomes damaged or infected due to trauma or decay, it can be extremely painful and may cause further problems such as abscesses, spreading of the infection or bone damage. As a result, the damaged pulp and the surrounding nerves need to be removed, this process is called endodontic treatment or root canal treatment.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms will vary from patient to patient and may include:
- A persistent toothache
- Swollen, red or painful gum tissue surrounding the tooth
- Discomfort when eating
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food or drinks
- An abscess along the gum line
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to call and book an appointment with us as soon as possible. If left untreated, it is likely to worsen over time and may cause irreversible damage, necessitating the removal of the tooth.
What is involved in the procedure?
The number of appointments required to undergo endodontic treatment depends on the severity of the damage, however most patients only require three appointments on average. During your first appointment, your dentist will wrap the tooth in thin rubber to avoid contamination. The top of the tooth is then opened, to expose the dental pulp. The infected pulp, nerves and any decay will be removed. In order to reach into the roots of the tooth your dentist will use a thin instrument called an endodontic file. This file will also allow them to reshape the roots to allow room for the filling material. Once the area has been cleaned of all of the infection and bacteria, it will then be sterilised and filled with a pink filling material called gutta-percha which will help prevent further infection while also strengthening the tooth.
If the damage is quite extensive your dentist may have to remove a significant amount of tooth, in this instance they will often recommend a crown which will further strengthen and restore the tooth.
What to do after treatment?
After root canal treatment you can return to life as normal, however, it is important that you maintain a good oral hygiene routine and visit your dentist every six months. These follow-up appointments will ensure there is no further damage or infection.
Is endodontic treatment painful?
Many of our patients automatically associate root canal treatment with pain. However, this is normally not the case, with many patients experiencing little to no pain at all. While some do experience discomfort, this is usually a result of the infection rather than the treatment.
If you are experiencing tooth pain but are concerned about the pain associated with root canal, it is important to book an appointment with your dentist to discuss your concerns.
We encourage our patients to let us know about any anxiety they may have so that we can help tailor a treatment plan to suit their needs.
If you are suffering from a persistent toothache or any of the other symptoms of gum disease, please call our friendly team on 9534 3481.
Disclaimer: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.