When a tooth decays becomes so deep and it reaches the nerve inside the tooth, it can become infected. Endodontic treatment, commonly known as a root canal treatment(RCT), removes the infection and fills in the root to prevent further damage. This page answers commonly asked questions about this procedure.
Why is it urgent to treat this so quickly?
Timing is important in root canal treatment. Regular cleaning checkups can help detect and address tooth and root decay. If your dentist recommends a root canal, the best course of action is speedy treatment. An infection in the root, left unchecked, can move from the tooth pulp into the surrounding tissue and grow into an abscess, causing enough damage to destroy the tooth.
Will it hurt?
Just as with a regular dental filling, the treatment location will be numbed with local anaesthetic, so you will not feel the procedure. Your mouth may be sore afterward just as with a regular filling, but once it subsides your tooth will be healing and on its way to more comfort.
What exactly happens during a root canal?
A root canal treatment removes an infection from deep within the tooth tissue. This is a complex procedure sometimes requiring multiple visits. During the first visit, the dentist will carefully clean out the root canal and removes all infected pulp and drain any abscesses from surrounding tissue. The resulting space is carefully shaped in preparation for root filling material. Although the tooth needs time to settle before a permanent root filling, the space is filled for now with a temporary dressing.
At the next visit, the tooth will be inspected for remaining signs of infection. Assuming it has all cleared up and all swelling and infection is sufficiently cleared, the dentist will place the permanent root filing at this time.
Will this change the appearance of my tooth?
Advanced technology has developed ways to perform root canal treatment that usually preserves the appearance of the tooth. In the event of discolouration, your dentist can recommend one of several treatments to restore your tooth’s natural appearance.
Will the infection come back?
Normally a root canal solves the problem of an infected root. You should not have to worry about that anymore.
Is it a costly treatment?
This is a complex procedure requiring time and skill. You may request an estimate from your dentist.
Can I delay or choose a different treatment?
Another option for treating an infected tooth is to remove it. Allowed to run its course, the infection will kill the root system of the tooth and remain a risk for spreading infection to surrounding tissues. Extraction is an option that creates other ongoing situations such as difficulty with eating and appearance. Dentists generally recommend keeping natural teeth whenever possible.
Will my tooth work normally after treatment?
The tooth should function properly. However, it may be more fragile. You will achieve greater comfort and stability by having a crown put on the affected tooth. Read more about crowns here.
Where can I get this treatment?
Your dentist is trained to perform a root canal as a standard procedure.
Will my tooth require special care afterward?
You can care for your tooth after a root canal in the same way as before. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Watch out for sugary food and drinks, and restrict them to mealtimes. Visit your dentist regularly for cleaning and checkups.