If your dentist has advised that you need root canal treatment to address an infected or damaged tooth, you might be wondering what exactly is involved in a root canal - or even what a root canal looks like.
When preparing for root canal treatment, it’s important to note that your treatment may involve a couple of visits to the dentist. While this might seem like a lengthy process, root canal treatment is one of the most effective ways to save a dying tooth and stop nerve pain in your tooth, so it’s more than worth the extra visit!
In this article, we’ll explore the three stages of root canal treatment, so you can be prepared for when it’s time to come in for your root canal surgery.
What can I expect from root canal treatment?
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms such as toothache, increased sensitivity, swollen gums or other signs of tooth decay, you may have a bacterial infection inside your tooth. To remove this infection, your dentist might recommend root canal treatment.
The purpose of a root canal is to eliminate the infection and reduce the risk of any future infections occurring. Root canal treatment can save an infected or badly damaged tooth, allowing your dentist to address the issue and alleviate your symptoms without needing to remove the tooth (which is a much more complex and costly procedure).
While we know that the prospect of attending your local dental surgery for multiple visits isn’t ideal, it’s necessary to complete the three stages of root canal treatment and ensure your tooth is completely free from infection.
Here are the three stages your root canal treatment will involve:
Root Canal Treatment Stage 1: Assessment and initial clean
This first stage will involve an evaluation of your tooth to confirm that a root canal is required, followed by an initial clean to control the bacterial infection in the tooth.
After numbing your tooth, your dentist will make a small opening on the top of the tooth in order to thoroughly clean the tooth’s root canal. This includes rinsing with antibacterial solutions and applying medication.
Finally, a temporary filling will be placed in the tooth before moving on to stage two of your root canal treatment.
Root Canal Treatment Stage 2: Follow-up clean and medication
The second stage of your root canal treatment can sometimes be performed on the same day as stage one, but it may need to be carried out 1-2 weeks later.
This stage involves a more thorough clean of the root canal in order to remove all the remaining bacteria inside the tooth. Your dentist may also take x-rays to confirm the length of your root canal to ensure that the full canal is cleaned.
Your dentist will also apply medication to the tooth to treat the infection.
Root Canal Treatment Stage 3: Filling the root canal
Once the root canal is completely free of any bacteria and your symptoms have been alleviated, it’s time to fill the root canal. This will generally take place 4-6 weeks after the second stage of your root canal treatment.
Filling of the root canal involves specialised rubber points, which are placed into the root canals before the canal is sealed. You may have a temporary or permanent filling inserted, depending on the nature of your tooth damage and situation.
Is a root canal painful?
While many people are daunted by the thought of root canal treatment, the fact is this treatment is usually no more painful than having a filling or other dental treatment performed. Plus, as your tooth will be numbed with an anaesthetic before the treatment, you won’t feel any pain during your procedure.
All our dentists are highly skilled and experienced in root canal treatments and will take every care to ensure you’re comfortable and relaxed throughout the procedure.
It’s important to remember that a root canal is a necessary and highly effective way to alleviate the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of a decayed or infected tooth. These can include toothache, swelling and sensitivity. Although you may not be thrilled at the prospect of a root canal, it’s your best bet for getting rid of those unwanted symptoms.
Wondering how to tell if you might need root canal treatment? Check out How To Know When You Need a Root Canal: Signs and Symptoms.
What happens if the infection is not treated?
If a root canal isn’t performed when needed, this can lead to much more serious health implications. The bacterial infection present in your tooth won’t heal on its own, so if left untreated, this infection can spread to the jaw, brain, blood and the rest of the body.
Aside from prolonging the pain and discomfort of an infected tooth - including severe toothache, sensitivity, swelling and pus, an untreated tooth infection can eventually result in tooth loss.
The only alternative to root canal treatment is to have the tooth removed. This is a much more complex and costly procedure, which is always best avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Discuss what’s right for you and your dental health with a National Dental Care dentist
If you think you may have signs of needing a root canal - or if your dentist has advised you that you need root canal treatment - it’s important not to put off your treatment. A root canal can be one of the best ways to address an infected tooth and free you from the painful symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
To find out more about root canal treatment - including what’s involved and potential costs of root canal treatment - contact your nearest National Dental Care dentist today.