Root canal therapy can save an infected or badly damaged tooth so it doesn't need to be pulled.
Root canals have an undeserved reputation as a scary dental procedure, but the truth is, they're not usually more painful than a normal filling. Your dentist or endodontist will make sure you know what to expect.
When might you need a root canal?
The root canals are the hollow spaces in the centre of your teeth that lead down to the roots. These contain the dental pulp, soft tissue with nerve endings that lets your teeth sense temperature. If the pulp is infected by bacteria or damaged, this can be extremely painful and cause your tooth to feel extra sensitive when you eat or drink something hot, cold, sweet or sour.
A tooth pulp infection can happen if tooth decay or erosion wears down your tooth or if your tooth is chipped or cracked, exposing the centre. If it's not treated, the infection could spread to other teeth or cause a dental abscess below the tooth.
Your dentist might recommend root canal therapy if:
- you have severe toothache, especially when chewing
- your tooth feels more sensitive to temperature
- your tooth looks dark
- your tooth feels loose
- you have swelling in your gum, face or neck (possible dental abscess)
The alternative to a root canal treatment is an extraction. This has more complications than a root canal and your dentist will also recommend replacing the missing tooth, which will involve further treatments and costs.
What happens during the treatment?
A root canal is a common dental procedure that may be performed by a general dentist or a specialist endodontist if you have a more complex case. Local anaesthesia will be used to numb your mouth so you won't feel pain during the procedure. If you feel nervous, you can talk to your dentist about other types of sedation.
After taking an x-ray to see where the infection is and to plan your treatment, your dentist will drill into the tooth and remove the infected tissue. Cleaning and shaping the inside of your tooth could take several visits, then a synthetic material will be placed inside to fill the gap. Finally, your tooth will be sealed using a custom crown or large filling designed to match the rest of your teeth.
What to expect after a root canal
Root canal treatment is usually free from complications and the treated tooth will usually function as normal, though it won't be sensitive to temperature any more. Pain and swelling can be managed by taking over-the-counter medication.
It's important to keep brushing and flossing your teeth as normal to prevent tooth decay and further infections. You should also try to cut down on sugar in your diet and visit your dentist for regular check-ups and teeth cleaning so they monitor your oral health and remove plaque from your teeth.
Do you need a root canal in the Gold Coast?
If you're worried you might have a tooth infection or you want to talk to a dentist about anything else, contact our team at Robina Town Dental.
Healthdirect. Root canal treatment [Online] 2019 [Accessed June 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/root-canal-treatment
Better Health Channel. Root canal treatment [Online] 2017 [Accessed June 2019] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/root-canal-treatment