The very mention of the words ‘root canal’ has the ability to make people feel nervous and apprehensive. However, like most things in life, part of the fear is not knowing what root canal treatment actually is. At Dental 266, we’re confident that once you’ve read this post, you’ll be more knowledgeable and dare we say ‘relieved’ that your tooth can be saved.
Root canal therapy is also known as endodontics which means ‘inside the tooth’. However, more dentists refer to it simply as a ‘root canal’. It’s a dental procedure that is used to treat an infection at the centre of the tooth. Bizarrely, while most people associate a root canal with being painful, in truth it’s a procedure that relieves them of pain.
The actual root canal is the middle part of your tooth that contains blood vessels and nerve tissue. Also known as ‘the pulp’ the nerve-laden area is situated inside the crown and the root. When you feel pain from the affected tooth, it’s probably emanating from the nerves in the pulp.
Although root canals are known for being expensive (without a crown the average cost ranges from $2000 to $3400) the alternative will cost far more. Not treating a root canal infection will eventually require the tooth to be extracted. Removing the tooth and replacing it with a dental implant is significantly more expensive than root canal therapy. That combined with knowing the root canal procedure will take away your pain, means that you shouldn’t think twice about getting your tooth treated if you have an infection.
What is the root canal procedure?
There are 3 steps involved in root canal therapy and generally, the process involves 2 visits to your dentist. Steps are as follows:
- Cleaning – The first thing our dentist has to do is remove the infection. This means drilling an access hole through the tooth to access the diseased and dead pulp tissue. You won’t feel any pain because local anaesthesia will be applied.
- Filling – Once the infected tissue has been removed, the area is thoroughly irrigated, sterilised, and prepared for filling. Since the root canal is very narrow, small files are used to enlarge and shape the crevice.
Depending on the affected tooth, there may be one or more roots, each containing one or 2 root canals, which means the treatment will take longer.
If this stage requires more than one session, then a small amount of medicine may be put in the cleaned canal between sessions to kill any remaining bacteria and a temporary filling will be used to seal the access hole.
On your return visit, the temporary filling is removed, and the pulp chamber is cleaned, filled, and sealed with adhesive dental cement.
Since the nerves of the tooth have been removed during root canal therapy, you won’t experience any more pain.
- Protecting – Since the tooth no longer has its pulp, it’s very fragile. Furthermore, it now has to rely on the ligament that attaches it to the jawbone for its nutrition. To protect the tooth, a filling or a crown has to be placed. Until that protection has been applied, the tooth is extremely delicate, and patients must take care not to bite or chew with it. Once the filling or crown has been placed, normal use can be resumed.
Does root canal treatment hurt?
While many people worry about root canals being painful, in all honesty, discomfort during treatment is minimal. You may feel some slight prodding and tenderness, but you won’t feel any serious pain since you’ll be given local anaesthesia. A lot of the time, the pain or discomfort comes from the infection and not the treatment. itself
Following treatment, any pain should have greatly reduced. If you’re feeling a little sore and tender, your dentist may advise taking over-the-counter painkillers for a couple of days until your tooth settles down.
Why get a root canal?
Once your tooth has got an infection, it can’t heal itself. Not addressing the problem quickly can lead to
- Severe pain
- An abscess forming at the root of the tooth
- Deterioration of the underlying bone tissue
- A delay that means your tooth can’t be saved
The infection could also spread to nearby teeth which could lead to illness, fever, swelling of the face and neck, and even blood poisoning.
If your teeth are feeling sensitive, it hurts when you chew, or you have consistent throbbing pain, it’s highly likely that you need root canal treatment. A dental x-ray can quickly confirm if your pulp is infected.
Where to get a root canal?
If you suspect you may need root canal treatment, then don’t hesitate to contact the team at Dental 266 by calling (02) 9051 0600 to make an appointment. We practice gentle dentistry and will do all we can to save your tooth.