Root canal therapy (RCT) is treatment of the infected nerve of a tooth.
What is the procedure for treatment?
All this takes between one and three sessions.
To maximise longevity, it is recommended the RCT-treated tooth be protected with either a restoration (a filling) or a crown.
Is root canal treatment suitable for you?
If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort from a particular tooth, a checkup with one of our dentists will identify the cause of the problem and whether RCT is an appropriate treatment.
RCT is most suitable when the affected tooth can be realistically saved for the long term. Assuming the tooth in question is not severely damaged, cracked or decayed and the surrounding gum is relatively healthy, root canal therapy is generally recommended.
This treatment is normally unsuitable where the tooth is beyond saving, in cases of severe infection, or when the tooth is badly damaged or likely to fall out later due to poor gum health. For patients on a tight budget, extraction is a more affordable option. If extraction is planned, serious consideration should be given to whether the gap thus created would need to be filled later.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most immediate benefit of RCT is it can provide significant pain relief. A long-term benefit of RCT is it preserves your natural tooth. This is in contrast to tooth extraction, which leaves a space that in turn, needs to be filled with a dental bridge or with an implant and crown – both expensive treatments.
Root canal therapy is not painful as it is only done when the tooth has been completely numbed. It will actually ease the pain and suffering caused by an infected tooth. However, for many people the thought of undergoing any dental treatment, no matter how simple or complex, produces feelings of anxiety. If you have any anxiety about your root canal treatment, talk with one of our endodontists about treatment options.
After your root canal treatment your tooth may be sore or tender. This is a normal symptom of your body’s healing process and usually lasts only a few days following your treatment.
Immediately after root canal treatment, while the area is still numb, you should be careful with what you eat and drink so as not to cause any damage to the treated tooth. We recommend that you avoid any hot, hard, crunchy or sticky foods or drinks, and that you try to avoid chewing on the treated side of your mouth while the temporary filling is in place.
As a follow-up treatment, it is often advisable to have a crown or similar tooth restoration fitted so as to protect the already compromised tooth and aim to prevent cracking or splitting of the remaining tooth structure. Once such protection is in place you can eat and drink as normal.
It’s important to keep up good oral hygiene after root canal therapy. You can still clean your teeth as normal, though we recommend you be gentle when brushing and flossing the treated area at first. As well as your home routine, you also need to follow up with regular check-ups with your general dentist and cleans with your hygienist to ensure good oral health.
You can expect many years of functionality from any tooth treated by a specialist endodontist. However, for a tooth to require root canal therapy, it has usually already suffered decay, wear or trauma, any of which can compromise the structural integrity of the tooth. Because of this, there are instances in which root canal treatment does not achieve a definitively favourable result long-term.
The downside of root canal therapy is it does inevitably weaken the remaining natural tooth to some extent. However, this problem can be significantly overcome with the fitting of a crown.
As with all dental procedures, there are risks associated with root canal treatment. Some are procedural – that is, they arise during the treatment process. The main procedural risk is for the root canal instrument (commonly known as a file) to fracture inside the root canal. This risk is greatest in patients whose canals are severely curved and calcified and/or hard to access. Fracture of files in these cases is best managed by an endodontist.
Another procedural risk is tooth fracture. This can occur in the period between starting root canal and having a crown placed on the tooth. Because of this, it is recommended that all root-treated teeth are fitted with some sort of restoration shortly after the completion of root canal treatment.
Non-procedural risks involve problems that can arise immediately or shortly after treatment. They include:
- residual infection as a result of inability to effectively remove all the nerve tissue due to complexity of the root canal system (e.g. curved roots, accessory canals or additional canals)
- a crack or split in the root, which often requires removal of the tooth
- some post-treatment sensitivity or pain either from the trauma of treatment or from biting when the tooth super-erupts as a result of inflammation.
Problems that can arise some time later are infection or a split in the root or tooth, requiring its extraction. In the majority of cases this can be avoided by the placement of a crown. If the tooth does need extraction at some stage in the future then sometimes an implant-supported tooth can be an option.
The risk of complications from root canal therapy is greatly reduced when treatment is carried out by a specialist endodontist, rather than a general dentist. At Core Dental one of our experienced endodontists will handle your treatment.
Root canal therapy falls within the specialist field of endodontics. While Core Dental Group’s general dentists do perform RCT routinely, we always recommend an endodontist in more complex cases so as to reduce the risk of complications.
At Core Dental you are assured of the best possible treatment by our specialist endodontist Dr Greg Tilley.