Root Canal Treatment

The aim of root canal treatment is to restore a tooth to health which has been badly damaged due to decay, disease or injury.  If a tooth infection is left untreated, severe consequences can follow including pain, swelling of the face, infection of the jaw bone and septicemia.


Usually the only alternative to root canal treatment is extraction of the tooth.  Most people prefer to save their teeth for a number of reasons:

  • a natural tooth will generally function better than an artificial tooth
  • to prevent movement and tilting of adjacent teeth out of their natural position
  • to prevent chewing and speaking difficulties
  • replacement of a missing tooth with an artificial tooth can be significantly more costly
  • to avoid unsightly dark gaps


When is a root canal treatment required?

Your dentist will closely examine the tooth, take a radiograph if required and conduct some investigations.  Some signs and symptoms that may be experienced include:

  • Severe, spontaneous pain which keeps you awake at night
  • An abscess or swelling near the tooth
  • Facial swelling
  • Pain with biting on the tooth
  • Marked sensitivity to temperature
  • Long lasting pain
  • Darkening of the tooth


What does root canal treatment procedure involve?

Root canal treatment (also known as endodontic treatment) is completed usually in two or three appointments, depending on the extent of the infection and complexity of the root canal system.

For your comfort, local anaesthetic is administered to numb the tooth to allow for as comfortable a procedure as possible.  Root canal treatment is often considered by many to be a scary and painful procedure.  This is not always the case.  Many patients are pleasantly surprised to find that it can be completely painless.

At your first appointment, a small opening is carefully made into the crown of the tooth to gain access to the nerve or pulp of the tooth.  The infected pulp tissue is removed and a sedative, antibiotic dressing is placed into the tooth to help reduce inflammation and relieve any pain.  At the next appointment, the root canals are then cleaned thoroughly, disinfected and shaped.   An antibacterial dressing is then placed into the root canal of the tooth along with a temporary filling to cover the opening.  After a period of time to allow for healing, the root canal is filled with a biocompatible material called gutta percha.  This seals the root canals.  After the root canal is filled, the tooth is ready for a permanent filling or a crown.