Root canal treatment is a treatment for repairing and, ultimately, saving a tooth once the nerve has become irreversibly damaged by decay or a fracture, and is infected.

If treatment is not received, then the tissue surrounding the tooth could possibly become infected and an abscess may form. Root canal treatment is when the nerve and pulp (the centre of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels are contained) are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.

Whilst it might seem extreme, the nerve has to be removed due to the multiplication of bacteria within the pulp chamber.

How do I know if I might need a Root Canal Treatment?

You might need a root canal treatment if you experience the following:

  • Severe toothache during chewing or whenever there is pressure placed on the tooth.
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. (Especially once the stimulus is removed.)
  • Tooth discolouration (darkening).
  • Swelling and tenderness in the gums.
  • Bad tastes in the surrounding area.
  • A gum boil – a persistent or recurring pimple on the gums.
  • Throbbing pain at night.
  • Pain during running.
  • Pain requiring relief by swishing cold water over the tooth.

What happens during a root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment will require at least one visit, and potentially more, to the dentist.

The first step of the procedure is the taking of an x-ray. This will help determine the shape of the root canals and check if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone. Your dentist will then numb the area using a local anaesthesia.

To keep the area dry and free of saliva during the treatment, a rubber dam (or separator) will be placed around the tooth. An access hole is made into the tooth, so that bacteria and decayed nerve tissue and debris removed.

The tooth is then cleaned out using root canal files in our automated rotary system. Once cleaned thoroughly, the tooth is then sealed.

A tooth that requires a root canal treatment is often one with a large filling or extensive decay, therefore making it weak. A crown is often required and placed on the tooth to protect it. This will help prevent breakages and restore it to full function.

If any additional dental work is required, your dentist will discuss it with you.

What should I expect after a root canal treatment?

For the first few days after a root canal treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive. This is due to natural tissue inflammation, which can also be caused by pain or infection present prior to the procedure. This discomfort usually subsides after a few days, and it can be controlled using over-the-counter pain medications.

What if the discomfort doesn’t go away?

If you’re still experiencing uncomfortable pain after the treatment, you may need to schedule a five minute appointment with Dental O So Gentle in order to receive a minor occlusal adjustment.

What can and I can’t I do after a root canal treatment?

It is advisable that you minimise chewing on the tooth under repair, until the treatment is completed and the tooth is crowned. You can and should brush/floss as you do normally. If your tooth flares up and is too painful to touch, please call your dentist. This can happen occasionally due to the complicated nature of the root canal treatment. Either further canal cleaning or an occlusal adjustment may be needed.