Although millions of root canals are performed annually across Australia, this is the dental procedure that concerns most patients. If you have recently learned you need a root canal procedure, you may be anxious about what to expect. 

Due to the advancements in dental technology and anaesthesia methods, root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is no more uncomfortable than a dental filling. The pain is relieved once the infection is removed.  


What is root canal therapy? 

Every tooth consists of three layers. Enamel is the outer protective layer. Underneath the enamel is dentin, which makes up most of the tooth, including the root. At the centre and extending into the root is the dental pulp. 

The pulp is the soft tissue that houses the tooth’s nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels. Once your tooth is fully developed, the pulp is no longer essential to your oral wellbeing but can become infected. 

Root canal therapy or endodontic treatment is when the diseased pulp is removed from the inner chambers of your tooth roots. Once the pulp is removed, and the tooth is disinfected, your tooth is fitted with a crown or dental filling to restore its integrity, appearance and function. 

A root canal procedure saves the natural tooth from extraction, relieves the toothache and removes the infection to prevent it from spreading to other areas in your mouth.   

It’s always best to save a natural tooth when possible. The benefits of saving your tooth include maintaining your bite and the ability to chew and preserving your jawbone and natural appearance.  


What happens if a root canal is left untreated?  

If a root canal remains untreated, the tooth will become abscessed and can cause the following:

  • Bone loss around the tip of your tooth
  • Swelling that spreads to other areas of your face
  • Drainage that oozes into your gums and cheek.

Reasons why you may need root canal treatment 

  • Persistent pain due to inflammation 
  • Deep decay
  • Sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Swollen gums
  • Dark discolouration of the tooth due to nerve damage 
  • Cracked or fractured tooth
  • The tooth requires a filling too close to the pulp
Dental patient

The root canal procedure 

A root canal procedure is typically performed in one appointment, but can sometimes require more than that, especially if the infection has to be treated with antibiotics first. 

Your dentist takes x-rays or images of the infected tooth to determine the shape and length of the canals, before administering a local anaesthetic to the area to numb the site and ensure you are comfortable. At Available Dental Care, we also offer IV sedation and nitrous oxide for nervous or anxious patients.  

Once the area is numb, your dentist places a dam over your mouth to help isolate the tooth that needs the root canal treatment and prevent any bacteria from entering your tooth from your mouth.  

Your dentist then drills away the decay and makes a small hole in the tooth to access the pulp chamber, before using endodontic rotary files to remove the infected dental pulp. 

Your root canals are disinfected with antiseptic and antibacterial solutions to kill the bacteria. Once everything has been cleared out, the canals are shaped and filled with gutta percha. You will receive a temporary filling to cover the hole.   


What to expect post-procedure

You may still experience some mild discomfort as the anaesthesia wears off and for a few days following the procedure. Over the counter pain medication can help alleviate any discomfort you may be experiencing. Your dentist may also prescribe pain medication to help manage the discomfort.   


Having your crown fitted

Once your dentist checks your tooth to ensure the infection has gone, you will be fitted for a crown to restore your tooth. Because the pulp has been removed, your tooth is brittle and can fracture, break or crumble easily. The dental crown protects your tooth. Some patients may receive a filling instead. This depends on how much of the tooth structure was removed due to decay.  

At Available Dental Care, we use CEREC technology to fabricate your dental crown in-house for a perfect fit, so there is no need for a temporary crown once your impression has been taken. It can also be fitted the same day that images are taken.   


Going forward

After receiving a root canal procedure, your tooth should last the rest of your life with a proper at-home oral hygiene regimen and regular dental checkups.  

Root canal treatment can be prevented with routine dental exams and hygiene cleanings. Your dentist can diagnose small cavities and fill them before they compromise the tooth’s nerve. 


Request an appointment 

If you notice sudden or increasing tooth discomfort, swollen gums, a discoloured tooth or a tooth becoming more sensitive to hot and cold foods, you may need root canal treatment. At Available Dental Care, we use state of the art endodontic equipment such as rotary endodontic files and the 3D Obturation System to make your root canal procedure as efficient and comfortable as possible.   

Contact us to book your consultation. 


Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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