At Clifton Hill Dental, we strive to save natural teeth where possible. Root canal treatment is a way of saving a tooth that has an infected and dead pulp and that would otherwise require removal.
When is root canal treatment necessary?
The following circumstances are the most common factors contributing to the need for root canal treatment:
- infection caused by deep decay or a very large filling
- severe gum disease
- trauma, such as a physical blow to a tooth or constant striking of a tooth by teeth on the opposite jaw
Regardless of the initial cause, the tooth pulp becomes irritated and infected. Bacteria grows within the tooth pulp, causing pressure and pain, sometimes accompanied by swelling of the face. In certain cases, the deterioration of the pulp can happen so gradually that little pain is felt. Either way, the bacteria eventually destroys the pulp and the bone surrounding the tooth may become infected and abscessed, often leading to the destruction of the bone surrounding the tooth.
What happens during root canal treatment?
X-rays and a clinical examination will determine if root canal treatment is necessary.
For root canal treatment a series of appointments is required and these will be scheduled for you in advance. It is important to keep these appointments to prevent delays in treatment and healing, which can affect the outcome. It’s also essential that you take all medications prescribed to hasten healing and reduce swelling as you progress through the treatment.
Once treatment commences, it will typically progress as follows:
- We will work to relieve any discomfort you might be experiencing and ensure your comfort throughout the treatment. When necessary, an anaesthetic will be used to numb the tooth and surrounding area. The tooth will be carefully isolated, which confines the treatment area and protects the rest of the mouth during treatment. An opening will be made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp.
- We will carefully remove the diseased pulp. The root canal area inside your tooth will be cleaned, enlarged and shaped. Then, depending on your individual case, the root canal and pulp chamber may be permanently filled and sealed. In some cases, we place a temporary medication in the tooth to control bacterial growth and reduce infection.
- A temporary filling will be placed in the opening of the tooth until the next visit. In some cases, the tooth may be left open in order to allow the infection to drain. We will decide what is right for your individual case and do whatever is necessary to assure your comfort.
- At the next appointment, we will thoroughly clean the inside of the tooth to remove any additional bacteria. Throughout the root canal procedure, we will take x-rays to ensure that all of the infected pulp is removed and that the canals are well prepared.
- Finally, we will permanently fill and seal the pulp chamber.
- Once the root canal treatment is complete, the tooth needs to be fully restored, generally with a crown.
After root canal treatment
Once root canal treatment has been completed, you should consider the following:
- brittleness — a non-vital (endodontically treated) tooth is more brittle than a vital one and is more susceptible to fracture. Therefore, in most cases, we recommend that your root canal tooth be crowned (capped) following treatment.
- discolouration — you may notice that your endodontically treated tooth (especially a front tooth) has undergone a change in colour. Though this discolouration is of no medical concern, you may be interested in having the tooth whitened. Be sure to ask us about teeth whitening if we do not decide to place a crown on the tooth.