Root canal treatment is performed by a dentist or an endodontist when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected. The dental pulp houses the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and living tissues. Most root canal treated teeth last an entire lifetime with an effective oral hygiene routine and regular dental exams and cleanings.
Your dentist or endodontist will carry out a root canal procedure to save an infected tooth from extraction. Thanks to modern dental techniques like sedation dentistry and technology like rotary files and endodontist microscopes, a root canal infection can be treated easily and the tooth restored with minimal discomfort.
Root canal causes
When the pulp becomes inflamed, it is irreversibly damaged, often resulting in excruciating pain. If left untreated the swelling and discomfort can spread to the face, head or neck and ultimately result in tooth loss.
Some common root canal causes include:
- deep-seated tooth decay
- fractured tooth due to trauma
- advanced gum disease
- repeat treatments to a tooth
- habitual tooth grinding
Is everyone eligible for a root canal procedure?
Not every patient can undergo root canal treatment. Certain medical conditions preclude you from the root canal process. It is vital that you discuss your medical history with your dentist or endodontist so you can consider your treatment options for your unique situation. You may be ineligible for treatment if you:
- are diabetic
- suffer from an autoimmune disease
- have high blood pressure
- are diagnosed with osteoporosis
- take blood thinners
How is root canal procedure done step-by-step?
An endodontist or dentist typically performs a root canal procedure in a single appointment, unless the infection is severe. You will require additional visits if you are being fitted with a dental crown.
- Your dentist will administer local anaesthesia to the infected tooth area. If you experience dental anxiety, ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. This will enable you to relax during the root canal procedure and allow the dentist to work efficiently.
- Once the tooth area is numb, your dentist drills a hole in the tooth to access the infected pulp.
- Your dentist then removes the infected pulp from the root canals using a set of special files.
- The canals are disinfected to remove any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk of another infection.
- The canals are then shaped so they can be sealed with gutta percha.
- Your dentist will place a temporary filling until a dental crown is fitted on top of the treated tooth. Sometimes, a post is inserted into the canal to provide more support for the crown.
- At a future appointment, the dental crown is cemented permanently. Crowns look and function just like your natural teeth.
Are there any side effects of root canal treatment?
After root canal treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive for a few days. Discomfort can be alleviated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
What about aftercare?
Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to ensure the infection is eradicated fully. Do not eat or drink anything for the first couple of hours after your root canal treatment.
How much does root canal treatment cost?
The cost of root canal treatment depends on the complexity of the treatment and which tooth is affected.
Can root canal treatment be done twice?
Yes, you can have a second chance to save your tooth if you experience a failed root canal treatment. Root canal problems can occur if the infection returns. Cracks in the root, undetected canal branches and an obstruction in the tooth can all cause a failed root canal. Retreatment has a high success rate.