When do I need a root canal treatment?
A root canal treatment is needed when the soft tissue located in a canal inside the root of a tooth, known as the pulp, experiences inflammation or infection. The pulp is like the “heart of the tooth” and it contains blood vessels, nerves and soft tissues. The anatomy inside of a tooth is very complex and most of the times a single tooth presents more than one canal.
Inflammation or infection can occur as a result of several things including deep decay, repeated dental procedures, faulty fillings or crowns, or trauma to the tooth. Your dentist will search for signs, symptoms or abnormality in the radiography prior to refer you to a root canal specialist (Specialist Endodontist). Signs of pulp damage include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discolouration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. However, sometimes you may not experience any symptoms but still be in need of endodontic treatment and if left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Why have I been referred to a specialist?
Specialist Endodontist is a dentist who specialises in saving teeth. Endodontists receive three or more years of advanced education in Endodontics following general dentistry school. As a result of the specialist training, endodontists are skilled in finding the cause of oral and facial pain, treating traumatic injuries to the tooth, diagnosing cracked tooth and performing other procedures that save teeth.
As endodontists, limiting our practice solely to endodontic treatment, we perform routine as well as difficult and very complex procedures, including root canal treatment, root canal retreatment and endodontic microsurgery. We use the most advanced technology in the field and we are therefore most efficient and precise. This equates to positive experiences and faster healing. We offer tremendous flexibility in accommodating emergency cases, so delays in treatment are kept to a minimum and patients can be relieved of dental pain quickly. We are also readily available for post-treatment questions or concerns.
What happens during treatment?
Endodontic treatment usually can be completed in one appointment, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. We use local anesthesia in your tooth area and only start the treatment when we are sure you are fully numb. A non-latex protective shield called dental rubber dam is placed to isolate your tooth to keep it clean and dry during the procedure, avoiding further contamination. An opening in the crown is made and with the help of a dental microscope we locate the canals, remove the infected or dental pulp, clean, shape and disinfect the canals. The canals are then filled with a biocompatible material and a temporary filling is placed over the access opening to protect your roots from being exposed or contaminated until you return to your general dentist for your final restoration.
Will the treatment be painful?
A local anaesthesia is used and we also take every measure to ensure that your procedure is in no way uncomfortable or painful. For most patients, the feeling of numbness usually subsides after 2-3 hours. It is normal for teeth to be sore for a few days after root canal treatment. Some teeth, particularly ones that have been problematic for a while, may take a few months to settle. This discomfort is normally from the inflamed supporting tissues.
Do I need to see my dentist after a root canal treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to the dentist who referred you. We advise you return to your general dentist between two to six weeks after your root canal treatment is completed to have your final restoration done unless advised differently by us. This amount of time will allow most of your tenderness to subside before having further procedures done on your tooth. If your tooth does not get the necessary final restoration (crown or filling) and the temporary filling wears out, the root canal will become infected and need retreatment, microsurgery or extraction.
The final restoration is either a filling or a crown and will be placed to protect your tooth from fracture and further contamination and restore your tooth to its full function. As the unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, please do not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have it restored by your dentist.