What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a safe procedure that can effectively save your tooth. Our dentists can use root canal treatment to care for the damaged root canal.

Root canal treatment may help save a damaged tooth. Inside every tooth there is soft tissue known as the root canal (pulp). Disease or injury such as a deep dental decay or a tooth fracture can cause irreversible root canal damage. When the root canal cannot repair itself from such damage, it dies. The whole tooth may be lost if the diseased root canal is left untreated.

Root canal treatment explained

What are the symptoms of a diseased root canal?

The dental decay that has reached the root canal area may cause inflammation or infection. Symptoms may include the following.

  • Increased sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and foods
  • Tooth pain when biting or chewing
  • Loosening of the tooth in its socket
  • Gum swelling surrounding the affected tooth
  • Pus accumulation around the affected tooth
  • Facial swelling

The presence of the above symptoms warrants a consultation with your dentist in a timely manner. Sometimes, root canal decay will not present with any symptoms. In such cases, special tests or x-rays carried out by your dentist during a routine dental check-up will identify the problem at hand.

Why does the decayed root canal need to be removed?

When the diseased root canal is not removed, pain and swelling can result. The infection can spread to cause jaw bone degeneration. Without root canal treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.

What does dental root canal treatment involve?

Root canal treatment involves one to three visits for your dentist to treat the decayed tooth. During the dental procedure, your dentist removes the diseased pulp. The dental decay is cleaned, decontaminated and sealed with a filling in the root. This dental procedure is also known as endodontic treatment.

Success rates for root canal treatment (endodontic treatment) are high. About 90 to 95 percent of patients who undergo root canal treatment can expect a functional tooth after the procedure. The treated tooth should last a life-time, provided that good oral hygiene is maintained. Of course, no therapy or replacement will sustain as long as a healthy tooth.

What is the procedure for a root canal treatment?

The number of visits to your dentist to complete the root canal treatment depends on the complexity of the decayed root canal. The exact procedure performed by your dentist may differ from what is outlined below, depending on the degree and nature of the decayed root canal.

A typical root canal procedure involves the following steps:

  1. The procedure is commonly performed under local anaesthetic. However, if the pulp is decayed, the tooth may no longer have any feeling and anaesthesia may not be required.
  2. The affected tooth is wrapped in thin rubber to allow decontamination of the root canals.
  3. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber. The diseased root canal, along with bacteria, pus and debris are extracted.
  4. The root canal is then shaped with a smooth interior surface so that it can be filled.
  5. The interior of the tooth is washed with disinfectants to prevent infection.
  6. A temporary filling is placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth in between dental visits.
  7. Once the dentist is assured that the root canal is infection-free, the canal will be sealed with long-lasting barrier materials (a rubber-based material called ‘gutta- percha’).
  8. The tooth is then restored and the biting surfaces are protected.
  9. The final step is restoring the crown with porcelain or gold alloy or other materials. This increases the prognosis and longevity of the treated tooth.

How long will the root canal treatment work for?

Root canal treatment is a dental procedure to replace a tooth’s damaged or infected pulp with a filling. The vast majority of people who undergo root canal treatment can expect a functional tooth after the procedure. The treated tooth should last as long as the other teeth, provided the tooth is kept clean and that you maintain excellent oral hygiene.