All about ROOT CANAL Treatment in Wentworth Point
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
The purpose of a root canal is to save your natural tooth, helping you avoid extraction or prosthetics.
A root canal treatment may sound a bit scary and daunting, but most of our patients experience little to no pain and importantly, a root canal treatment can save a severely infected or damaged tooth, allowing you to keep it rather than replacing it (or losing it all together).
Saving your natural tooth is important as it will typically work better than a prosthetic tooth for biting and chewing and avoids additional complex dental procedures and maintenance.
Dr Maher is an expert at root canal treatments and once he's done, you'd be hard-pressed figuring out which tooth has been treated as his work is meticulous.
WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
Root canal treatment is a relatively simple procedure used to relieve dental pain and can save a smile and dying tooth by repairing the damage inside a tooth. The root canal is a thin channel that runs inside the root of the tooth. It contains the nerves, blood vessels and arteries, also known as pulp inside the tooth. The pulp is sensitive tissue that provides nutrients and oxygen to the tooth. The root canal and nerves within the tooth can be infected by bacteria, necessitating root canal treatment. Each tooth typically contains between 1-4 root canals.
WHY WOULD I NEED A ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
Every case is assessed individually, with Dr Maher examining your teeth in great detail to determine which procedure is the most suitable. It may be that a less complex, cheaper alternative is feasible in which case that would be the option we'd take! Patients typically need root canal treatment to treat serious tooth sensitivity, deep decay, inflammation or infection at the roots of a tooth. Dental pain is commonly experienced when a patient’s root canal is infected. Bacteria can seep into the pulp of a tooth and multiply as a result of:
Bad decay due to an untreated cavity
A fracture (chip or crack in the tooth)
Repeated dental procedures on the same tooth
Wear and tear
Resorption (where the tooth structure dissolves away as a reaction to injury, trauma or tooth replantation, or aggressive tooth movement during orthodontics)
Traumatic injury (note that even if the tooth is not cracked from great force, the pulp within an injured tooth can still be damaged and a severed nerve at the end of the root will eventually die)
Any of the above can cause an infection that could lead a tooth to die. Increased pressure inside the tooth can build up in an infected pulp, resulting in dental pain, commonly felt and exacerbated by biting and chewing motions/pressure and from hot or cold foods and drinks. The pain that comes from a tooth needing a root canal is fairly specific when it comes to hot or cold sensations. If the tooth is still alive, the affected person will experience extreme sensitivity to hot or cold liquids or foods and that sensitivity will continue even after the hot or cold stimulus is taken away from the tooth. Heat sensitivity, instead of cold, is a symptom that is very specific to a tooth requiring root canal treatment.
WHAT ARE COMMON SIGNS THAT I MAY NEED A ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
Common signs that you might need a root canal include:
Sensitivity to hot or cold that lasts an abnormal amount of time after the source has been removed
Sharp pain while eating
Extensive visible decay on the tooth
Swollen and/or tender gums
Swelling of the face or neck
The pain you may experience can be anything from a heat sensation in the gums, a constant dull ache, a throbbing pain that lingers to severe pain when biting down. Other underlying symptoms that may suggest root canal therapy is needed is a loose tooth, the darkening of a tooth, swelling of the gum area surrounding the tooth, tender gums or facial swelling. Another tell-tale sign is when a small pimple-like bump or bumps appears on the gum in the area of the infected tooth. This is where the collection of pus from the root tip is draining and can leave a bad taste in your mouth. When any of these symptoms are experienced, the issue must be addressed as soon as possible.
Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms at all, so it's important that you get regular check-ups at the dentist to help identify issues early (or avoid them altogether).
Want to learn more about Root Canals?
Whether you’re concerned you might need one or simply want to learn more, you can book a consultation with our award-winning dentist! Our state-of-the-art dental practice is conveniently located in the heart of Wentworth Point (Olympic Park), Sydney.
DOES A ROOT CANAL TREATMENT HURT?
As you will be given local anesthesia, a root canal is typically pain-free (other than the tiny pinch you may feel when you receive the anesthesia). It is no more painful than a normal filling procedure however due to its complexity, it will take more time.
It is a complex procedure requiring specialised training and care, so it is important that you choose the right specialist to perform your root canal treatment. Completed properly, the chances of having to retreat the tooth is low and you'll be able to eat and enjoy your favourite foods pain-free for many years to come!
With more than 28 years in the dental industry and a passionate team, Dr Maher is here to ensure your treatment is completed as pain-free and smoothly as possible!
WHAT HAPPENS IF I IGNORE THE SIGNS THAT I NEED A ROOT CANAL? WILL IT GET BETTER BY ITSELF?
When a tooth’s root canal becomes infected, the tooth cannot heal by itself without treatment. A tooth may become abscessed from infection.
The danger of an abscess that is left untreated is that it will continue to grow and infect the bone around the root of the tooth. The infection may then spread into surrounding bone and tissues. In rare cases, people have died from infections that started from a tooth abscess. The infection can result in bone loss around the tooth, which can cause the tooth to fall out; and/or worsening pain until a patient is forced to seek emergency dental attention.
The only alternative would be to extract the tooth, which may not be the preferable course of action. This is because the surrounding teeth may shift, resulting in misaligned teeth, a bad bite, altered speech or further gum disease problems. Although extraction is cheaper, the space left behind may require an implant or a bridge, which can be more expensive than root canal treatment.
Aside from the fact that you can save a tooth, your teeth remain more efficient at biting and chewing than a replacement artificial tooth would. Therefore, if a tooth has a good outlook, Dr Maher will recommend root canal therapy to save the original tooth than to extract it.
HOW IS A ROOT CANAL TREATMENT PERFORMED?
Root canal treatment is known as ‘Endodontics’ in dental terms and is carried out in one to three appointments with little or no discomfort. Endodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals specifically with the tooth pulp and tissues surrounding the root of the tooth. During root canal treatment, Dr Maher will locate the offending tooth and take an x-ray in order to show the roots of the tooth, to determine how far the decay has travelled and if there is an abscess present. A course of antibiotics may be given to clear the abscess ahead of root canal treatment as the abscess will reoccur if the treatment is not carried out.
Under a local anaesthetic, the endodontist will isolate the tooth with a rubber dam, drill into the top of the tooth to gain access to the pulp chambers and carefully remove the diseased dead pulp inside the root canal of the tooth. Each tooth will have between one and four canals. The removal of the diseased pulp is done by using specialised tooths and a hydrochloric wash. An additional x-ray is taken at this point, followed by a thorough clean, disinfection, and shaping of the root canals. Medicine such as a topical antibiotic or calcium hydroxide is applied to fight bacteria. The tooth will then either be temporarily filled and another appointment is required, or if the infection was not too serious, the tooth can be filled permanently to seal the space.
The root canals are treated both mechanically and chemically. If a second (or third) appointment is needed, your dentist will continue cleaning out the root canals using the same process as before. Additional appointments will be made a week later or more to allow the tooth time to heal. It can take multiple appointments for the dentist to clean and shape the hole inside the tooth before placing the filling inside. Between treatments, your dentist will seal the tooth with a temporary filling and may place a metal band around the tooth to protect it. When the root canals are cleaned and dried, they will be backfilled with a sterile filling material called ‘Gutta Percha’ which is placed into the root canals until they are sealed. The dentist may also insert a small support into the root canals to strengthen the tooth.
A final x-ray is taken to make sure the infection is gone and to check that the root canals have been filled completely before a permanent filling is put into place. The dentist may also prescribe you oral antibiotics.
Any tooth with a treated root canal can become weak, brittle and discoloured. As such, depending on the level of damage and the location of the tooth, your dentist, Dr Maher, may advise you to have a dental crown fitted to the tooth to strengthen its structure and improve the overall appearance. A cheaper option than installing a crown is to restore the tooth with an amalgam or a composite filling, but the downside is the risk of future fractures to your tooth. When root canal treatment is complete, regular follow-up appointments are held to monitor tissue healing. The treated tooth can be expected to last a lifetime, or as long as any other natural tooth with the maintenance of oral hygiene.
RISKS AND POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS OF A ROOT CANAL
Root canal treatment is not only safe and straightforward but an effective procedure to quickly relieve the pain of a troublesome tooth. It is, however, important that a very experienced dentist like Dr Maher performs the procedure to minimise potential complications.
For example, in rare circumstances, the procedure may need to be repeated if diseased canal offshoots were not previously detected, because a canal filling instrument fractures, or because the procedure itself had failed altogether causing a marked return of pain. Canal filling instrument fractures can happen when excessively curved roots are being treated and a file has broken off inside the canal.
In rarer circumstances, if the pulp canal is difficult to locate due to narrowing or calcification, the tooth may become perforated while attempting to locate the canal. The tooth is perforated when the dental drill starts from the inside of the tooth and communicates a hole through to the outside of the tooth instead of remaining centred. Many perforations can be repaired, but if severe, may cause the tooth to have to be extracted.
Both circumstances are very rare but we want to keep you fully informed! Following root canal treatment, natural tissue inflammation might cause some minor discomfort. However, this is only temporary and short lived. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen can assist.