Root canal treatment

When Is Root Canal Treatment Needed?

Root canal treatment

The innermost part of the tooth is called the pulp which contains vital blood vessels and nerves and extends from the crown to the tips of the root or roots.

The pulp can become infected or inflamed due to deep decay,  a deep filling  that is close to the pulp, cracked or fractured tooth due to trauma, excessive wear of enamel and dentine exposing the pulp. Signs of pulp damage may include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, swelling, tenderness of the overlying gums or a bad taste in the mouth.

On the other hand, there may be no symptoms at all. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can eventually cause pain, swelling and loss of the supporting bone.

What Are The Advantages Of Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment saves teeth that would otherwise have been extracted.

After root canal treatment the tooth has no pulp i.e. its dead. However, there are vital tissues surrounding the root e.g. the gum, periodontal membrane and supporting bone. A root canal treated tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene measures.

Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?

Root canal treatment procedures are relatively comfortable and often painless as the tooth is anaesthetised during treatment. After treatment, the tooth may be tender for a few days due to inflammation of the surrounding tissues. This discomfort can be relieved by taking mild painkillers. However, if the pain persists and is severe, or a swelling occurs, you should contact your dentist.

What Does Root Canal Treatment Involve?


  • Removal of the infected or inflamed pulp.  Under local anaesthetic an opening is made in the surface of the tooth to get access to the infected or inflamed pulp within.
  • Using small, specially designed hand or rotary files, the root canals are cleaned and filed to remove any pulp tissue from the walls of the root canal and produce a shape which can be filled. The inside of the canals are flushed clean using an anti-bacterial solution.
  • The canals are finally filled or sealed with an inert material called gutta-percha. The tooth should be restored to full shape and function by either a permanent filling or a crown, depending on how much of the tooth is left

All root canal treatment procedures are performed by isolating the tooth with a rubber dam to provide a clean and saliva-free environment. Root canal treatment may be done in single or multiple visits depending on the complexity of the tooth. In between appointments medicaments may be placed within the canals to destroy any remaining bacteria and the tooth is covered with a temporary filling.

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