15 Dec Everything You Need to Know About Root Canal Treatment
Every tooth has an internal canal system that goes from the crown to the root. A tooth can contain up to four canals, each filled with dental pulp (a mix of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels).
A root canal treatment (also known as endodontic treatment) is a procedure that involves infected dental pulp being removed from inside the tooth. The space is then cleaned, disinfected, filled, and sealed. Depending on your situation, the surface of the tooth may also be replaced with a filling or crown.
With more than 50 years of experience, rest assured that the team at Boroondara Family Dentist will be able to offer personalised advice on root canal treatment. Contact us today.
How Do I Know if my Dental Pulp is Infected?
A tooth with diseased or damaged dental pulp may lead to a number of symptoms:
- Inflammation or infection
- Unprovoked or spontaneous pain
- Sensitivity to hot and/or cold
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Loosening of the tooth
- Gum swelling in the affected area
- Oozing pus near the affected tooth
- Facial swelling
It is possible to have no symptoms; in these cases, your dentist will usually pick up on the issue during a routine dental check-up or with an x-ray.
What is the Procedure for a Root Canal Treatment?
Although it’s a fairly common procedure, a root canal is more complex than other types of routine dentistry (such as fillings). The procedure usually involves four steps:
- Local Anaesthetic
Pain and discomfort are not unusual during a root canal, which is why your dentist will administer a local anaesthetic. You will remain awake during the procedure but not be able to feel any pain.
- Pulp Removal
A small opening will be made on the top of the tooth, exposing the diseased or damaged dental pulp. The dentist will carefully remove it using special tools, then will take some time to carefully clean out all of the canals in the tooth.
- Shaping the Canals
The canals need to be shaped into smooth, hollow tunnels that are free of irregularities. It usually involves small instruments, disinfectants, and even medications (so it can take weeks to months for full effect).
- Filling the Canals
To prevent bacteria from re-entering the canals, your dentist will permanently seal them using a paste and rubber-like material (known as gutta-percha). A well-sealed restoration is put on the tooth, but some may require further protection (such as a crown or post).
How Long Does Root Canal Treatment Take?
Depending on the difficulty of your root canal procedure, you will require more than one visit. Your dentist will be able to advise the likely number of visits, but three is generally sufficient:
- First Appointment (pulp removal and shaping the canals – usually 30 to 60 minutes)
- Second Appointment (filling the canals – usually 45 to 60 minutes)
- Third Appointment (restoration and check-up – usually 30 minutes)
What Aftercare is Required?
Once the anaesthetic wears off, your tooth and surrounding gums may feel sore and experience some swelling. This can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. You’ll return to your dentist a few days after the procedure, where they’ll take some x-rays to ensure that the infection has gone and will replace the temporary filling.
You’ll be able to return to your normal routine the day after the procedure; just try to avoid chewing with the affected tooth until it has been permanently filled. It can take several weeks to get used to the new tooth, but this is completely normal and no cause for concern.
Can I Drive After a Root Canal?
Some people are able to comfortably drive immediately after their root canal, while others will need to wait a bit longer. Please note that if you received a sedative or general anaesthesia during your treatment, you will not be permitted to drive until the full effects have worn off.
Does a Root Canal Treatment Have Any Side Effects?
While the procedure usually goes off without a hitch, there are some possible side effects to be aware of:
- It’s impossible to guarantee that the infected dental pulp has been completely removed (as each tooth contains microtubules through which infections can travel).
- There are many tiny side canals that aren’t touched during a root canal, which will die and rot when the pulp is removed. Their decay can also attract the breeding of bacteria and infection.
- In some rare cases, patients have gone on to suffer from unexplained inflammation and chronic disease as a result of the treatment.
Are You a Candidate for Root Canal Treatment?
If you suspect an infection inside your tooth or you’ve already been told that root canal treatment is the best way forward, we highly recommend booking an appointment with Boroondara Family Dentist today and getting all the facts about this procedure.
Our caring and compassionate team understand that many people have fears and concerns about visiting the dentist, which we seek to alleviate wherever possible, as well as find a solution that sees you return to eating without pain.