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HomeTreatment Spotlight | What is root canal therapy?

Treatment Spotlight | What is root canal therapy?

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Root Canal Treatment
When is root canal treatment needed?
The procedure

Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is a dental procedure undertaken to save a damaged tooth. By removing infected pulp inside the tooth, root canal therapy alleviates the intense pain of a tooth infection, while restoring the tooth’s normal function and appearance. If you’re wondering what root canal treatment involves, how much root canal treatment might cost, and what type of symptoms could indicate an infected tooth, our handy guide covers all you need to know about root canal therapy.

Root canal treatment, also known as root canal therapy or endodontics, involves a small hole being made in a decayed tooth in order to remove the soft centre, called the dental pulp. In some cases, the crown of the tooth (the surface used for chewing) may also be replaced. Root canal therapy can save a tooth that’s become badly decayed or damaged, and restore normal tooth functionality and appearance without having to extract the tooth.

When is root canal treatment needed?

Root canal treatment is performed to save a damaged or badly-infected tooth. The damage or infection may have occurred as a result of tooth decay, wear and tear, gum disease, cracked fillings, or a tooth injury. If the dental pulp inside the tooth becomes damaged, bacteria can multiply within the tooth. This can cause the formation of an infection or abscess.

Saving a damaged tooth using root canal treatment is usually a better option than having to replace the tooth with an artificial one, which generally requires a more complex dental procedure.

The procedure

First, the dentist will take an x-ray of your tooth, in order to assess the shape of the root canals and establish whether there is an infection present in the bone surrounding the tooth.

Next, the infected pulp will be removed from the tooth (usually under local anaesthetic) and a special antibacterial agent is inserted which removes all traces of infection from the tooth. This substance remains inside your tooth’s root canal for around two to four weeks, to ensure the infection is completely removed.

Finally, your excavated tooth is plugged and a dental crown may be applied to restore the tooth to its former appearance. The entire root canal treatment is usually completed in one to three appointments, leaving you free from the pain of an infected tooth and ready to resume your normal life without discomfort.


How do I know if I need root canal treatment?

If you have a damaged or infected tooth, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe toothache when chewing.
  • Tooth sensitivity to heat or cold, which continues after the hot or cold substance is no longer present.
  • Darkening of tooth colour.
  • Tenderness or swelling of the gum or around the area of the tooth root.
  • A persistent pimple on the gums or a hole in the tooth.
  • Swelling of the face or neck.

However, some people will be unaware they have an infected tooth, especially those in good health with a strong ability to fight infection. You may not experience any of the symptoms listed above and still have an infected tooth which requires root canal treatment. It may show up on a routine X-ray as a dark shadow around the root of the tooth. This is why it’s important to attend regular check-ups with your dentist, so they can check for signs of any problems such as tooth infection.

Is root canal treatment painful?

While you may find root canal treatment more uncomfortable than a normal filling due to the procedure taking longer, it’s often not any more painful. Plus, it’s worth remembering that as root canal treatment is designed to remove the tooth infection, the end result will alleviate the pain you’ve been experiencing as a result of the damaged tooth.

You may have a little soreness for a couple of days following your treatment, but this can be remedied using standard pain relief medication such as Panadol. In most cases, patients don’t need to take any pain medication at all.

How much does a root canal treatment cost?

The cost of root canal therapy varies depending on a number of factors, including where the infected tooth is located in the mouth, and how complicated the individual circumstances of the infection are. In general, root canal treatment performed closer to the front of the mouth tends to be easier, which can make this less expensive than if the treatment is needed at the back of the mouth.

Your dentist can provide you with all the information you need on your root canal treatment, including how much your procedure will cost. To make an appointment with a practitioner, Book Online now.