What is Root Canal Treatment: Everything You Need To Know

What is Root Canal Treatment: Everything You Need To Know By Dr. Abhi Singh | November 14, 2021

What is Root Canal Treatment: Everything You Need To Know

Do you have a tooth that’s causing you an immense amount of pain? If so, then it may need root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment, also referred to as endodontics, is a dental procedure used to remove an infection from the inside of a tooth. It may also protect the tooth from further disease.

Read on to learn more about what root canal treatment is, who should get this type of dental work done, and how much it costs!

Endodontics is the term used to describe the dental procedure commonly referred to as a “root canal treatment”. This treatment is performed in the root canal (hence the common term used), which is the pulp of the tooth.

Root canal treatment is the process in which your dentist removes all the infected tissue inside the tooth. It includes drilling a hole in the tooth and removing the soft centre, called the dental pulp.

The dental pulp is composed of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels, and it extends into the tooth’s roots. If the pulp tissue is damaged or infected, it can die.

During the procedure, the root canal is cleaned and sealed after the nerve and pulp are removed. A crown is then placed over the tooth to protect it.

Before, the only solution to teeth with damaged pulps was extraction. Today, root canal therapy has offered dentists a safe solution for conserving teeth and keeping your natural smile.

The soft centre of teeth is known as dental pulp. The pulp extends from the tooth’s visible crown to the tip of the tooth’s root in the jawbone. Nerves, blood arteries, and connective tissue are all found in the pulp. Bacteria can penetrate the pulp when a tooth is broken or has a deep cavity. When left untreated, bacteria and decaying material can cause a severe tooth infection or an abscess that can cause pulp death, bone loss, and tooth loss.

Inflammation or infection can result from a damaged tooth pulp. There are cases when there are no symptoms that a tooth needs root canal therapy. More often, the following can be an indication:

The most prevalent cause of tooth pain is root canal infection, which is a bacterial infection of the tooth. You may feel pain deep within the tooth’s bone, or it may connect to your jaw, face, or other teeth. It may be persistent, or it may come and go, but it always returns. It’s a relatively strong sign that your nerve has a problem. 

Toothache can also be caused by gum disease or a sinus infection, so you should pay a visit to your dentist. Early diagnosis and treatment, regardless of the source, often leads to better outcomes.

Sensitivity may feel like a sharp pain or a dull ache. If the pain persists for long periods, even after you stop eating and drinking, a root canal may be necessary.

An infected or damaged blood vessel or nerve may cause your tooth to hurt when you eat or drink something hot or cold.

Your tooth may turn discoloured as a result of an infection in the pulp of your tooth.

Trauma to the tooth or deterioration of the internal tissue can result in root damage and a greyish-black colour of the tooth.

The acidic waste products of diseased pulp cause swelling. Swollen gums surrounding the damaged tooth may indicate the need for a root canal. It may be tender to the touch or completely painless. The swelling may occur intermittently.

Yet, it is important to understand that swollen gums can be a sign of other oral problems, such as periodontal disease or advanced gum disease. Hence, dental consultation is essential.

Bacteria can grow in a chipped or cracked tooth after an accident, contact sport, or chewing on something hard.

Even if a tooth doesn’t chip or crack, it might still damage the nerves. Inflamed nerves induce pain and sensitivity, requiring root canal therapy.

There is a tooth abscess in the damaged tooth that causes tooth pain. You may notice a discharge around the area, and this pus may leave an unpleasant taste and bad breath in your mouth. 

Tooth pulp can become diseased or infected without causing any symptoms, however. In these instances, the condition is usually identified through special tests or x-rays performed during a dental check-up or treatment for other oral issues.

According to a 2016 study, the symptoms that indicate the need for a root canal vary depending on the type of bacteria causing the infection; however, there are some common signs that you may need the treatment.

Moreover, the type of dental treatment you need will depend on the severity of the infection (or damaged tooth) and your health status. The dentist will be the right person to identify if you are a good candidate for root canal therapy or which suitable treatment plan. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your dentist as early as possible. The sooner you have your tooth treated, the better the outcome will be.

Root canal treatment is a procedure that allows a dentist to save an infected tooth and preserve surrounding teeth and tissues from infection, as opposed to an extraction, which requires the dentist to create an implant to replace the extracted tooth.

Root canal therapy can be a less invasive procedure, saving the patient from follow up appointments to have the implant fitted.

Contrary to what many people believe, a root canal is less painful than a tooth extraction. You can expect a long-term (or it may be a lifetime) solution if you maintain appropriate oral hygiene.

The advantage of root canal treatment is that it can eliminate the pain by removing the infection without compromising the natural tooth. Most of the time, it is best to save them because nothing functions as well as an original tooth.

The procedure will eliminate tooth pain and protect the tooth from further complications. It prevents the dead pulp from reaching the tooth root, which can result in damage to the bone.

The following are the benefits of root canal therapy:

If possible, dental professionals often opt to preserve a badly infected tooth. However, in some cases, a root canal treatment may not work with all teeth that have an infected pulp.

Some of the reasons for this could be extensive decay, severe wear and tear on teeth, trauma, or loss of bone because of periodontal disease.

Root canal therapy involves removing the infected or inflamed pulp and nerves from the root of the tooth, cleaning and shaping the inside of the canal, then filling and sealing the area. Your dentist will place a dental crown to protect and restore the tooth to its original function. A general dentist can perform the procedure, but there are some cases when a referral to an endodontist may be necessary.

Endodontic treatment allows you to keep your natural smile, enjoy the foods you want, and reduce the need for repeated dental care. 

Many patients are concerned about the root canal success rate. Root canals have a success rate of 85% to 95%. The presence of bacteria usually causes root canal therapy to fail, but it only occurs in rare cases.

A root canal typically takes one or two appointments, but some teeth require multiple visits due to difficulty. 

First, you’ll have dental X-rays taken to determine the degree of the damage. A local anaesthetic is also administered to alleviate pain, which may be more intense if the tooth is abscessed. Then, a rubber-like covering known as a dental dam is placed in your mouth to keep the teeth clean, protected, and saliva-free.

To get access to the dental pulp, decay is eliminated, and a hole is produced through the tooth’s crown. The infected or damaged pulp is removed with small dental devices.

Your dentist’s exact procedure may differ from the one detailed here. You can ask the dentist about the entire process and get more information.

A small amount of anaesthetic will be administered to your gums near the damaged tooth by the dentist. A local anesthetic will beanaestheticinto your gums once it has taken effect. A severe pinch or a burning sensation may occur, but this will subside quickly.

You will remain conscious during the procedure, but the anaesthesia will keep you pain-free.

Previous or old filling material, dental decay, damaged nerve tissue, debris, or abscesses are all removed during the initial process.

To be properly filled, the canals within the tooth root must be sculpted into smooth, hollow tunnels free of imperfections that may contain residual bacteria. This shaping procedure involves the use of small equipment, special disinfectants, and medication. It may take several weeks to months for these solutions to have their most effective effect on resistant bacteria within the teeth.This process may need to be repeated numerous times.

To prevent bacteria from reinfecting your tooth’s empty canals, they are permanently sealed with a durable protective layer.

To avoid bacteria from the oral environment from leaking back into the tooth, a well-sealed restoration is placed on top of the tooth (such as a crown). Root canal-treated teeth sometimes have lost substantial tooth structure due to previous decay or cracks. They may require further protection, such as dental crowns made of porcelain, gold alloys, or similar materials.

Recurrence of infections is a possible problem after root canal therapy. This can be caused by improperly cleaned root canals or an undetected fracture in a tooth’s root. Simple re-treatment can help with a reoccurring infection. If you are concerned about the adverse effects of root canal therapy, you should consult with your dentist.

Having your root canal restored with a new crown for your tooth will allow it to function normally and look nice as well. Your restored tooth could last a lifetime if you practise proper oral hygiene. 

Root canal treatment procedures have improved significantly, making this a common treatment with no discomfort or unpleasantness. The tooth after the root canal may be sensitive or feel sore for a few days. These are normal side effects and should only last for a few days.

Moreover, over-the-counter pain relievers can alleviate discomfort. If the pain or pressure persists for longer than a few days, consult your dentist or endodontist.

The only alternative option is tooth extraction. However, this can impact the adjacent teeth, causing them to shift and leaving you with a poor bite. While having your tooth extracted may be less expensive in the short term, the space left behind will almost certainly necessitate the placement of an implant or bridge, which can be more costly in the long run than root canal therapy. Keeping your natural teeth is always the best option if possible.

Endodontic or root canal treatment is necessary when the inside of your tooth (the dental pulp) gets inflamed or infected due to deep decay, recurrent dental procedures, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Even if your tooth has no noticeable chips or cracks, trauma to the tooth can cause pulp damage. If pulp inflammation or infection is not treated, it can result in pain or an abscess.

Root canal therapy prevents the infection from spreading and relieves the discomfort caused by the inflamed tooth pulp. If left untreated, bacteria from the infection can travel directly through the tooth roots to the tissues around the area, most often the gums and jaw.

Other complications if infected tooth pulp is left untreated are the following:

You can prevent the need for endodontic treatment (or root canal therapy) and other oral problems by taking care of your teeth and mouth by practising dental hygiene.

  • Oral care. Brushing your teeth twice a day (at least once during the day and before you sleep) increases the health of your teeth. Leaving food debris in your mouth can accumulate plaque and attract bacteria to grow.
  • Mouthrinse. It may sound unnecessary, but using antiseptic mouthwash reduces bacteria in the mouth, which reduces plaque formation. It can also help remove debris that brushing cannot.
  • Use the right toothbrush. Changing your toothbrush regularly reduces the risk of infection caused by bacteria. The average amount of time is three to four months, which ensures that the bristles are still effective.
  • Visit your dentist. Having a regular dental check-up allows the dentist to evaluate your oral health and prevent complications from occurring. It is also recommended to have a professional deep clean twice a year.
  • Floss your teeth. Flossing eliminates and removes plaque between the teeth, providing a healthier mouth. It can also reduce the risk of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. Be cautious when you floss your teeth; healthy gums should not bleed.
  • Sugar consumption. Sugary drinks and foods are delicious. However, excessive consumption can damage your tooth enamel (decay), which can lead to tooth cavities.

The cost of root canal treatment, or endodontic therapy, varies and depends on the dental clinic’s location, the number of root canals required, and whether a permanent crown is necessary to complete the treatment.

An average root canal procedure without a crown will cost between $2,100 and $3,400. In contrast, if you have three canals in one of the larger molars, the cost may reach up to $2,760 without a crown and around $4,760 with a crown.

These costs are often lower if the procedure is performed by a general dentist rather than an endodontist. An endodontist will usually charge 20% to 30% more than a general dentist for the same service. When planning your root canal treatment budget, take into account that re-treatments might be up to one-third more expensive than first-time treatments.

Root canal treatment can be quite expensive. Thus, having insurance can be beneficial. In Australia, health insurance extras do not cover endodontic treatment. Most insurance policies only cover general dental treatment, such as routine check-ups. It may be necessary to have a high level of extras to cover the cost of major dental procedures like root canal therapy.

Find a private health insurance company that covers endodontic therapy. In most cases, the annual benefit limit is around $400 or $500, which means only part of your root canal treatment will be covered by your health insurance.

You can keep your out-of-pocket expenses low by purchasing more comprehensive extra coverage. When choosing a policy, you should always check the annual limits and the amount of reimbursement you can expect.

Following the procedure, your endodontist or dentist will provide you with instructions for pain management and how to care for your tooth while you recover and until your next appointment. Following care instructions is essential, especially if you have a temporary filling or crown in place.

If the pain persists after a root canal, it should be addressed by your dentist. Aside from taking medications, there are other measures you can take to alleviate the discomfort associated with a root canal. Keeping your teeth clean and healthy is essential.

While you may feel a slightly different sensation from your treated tooth than from your other teeth for a while, you should call your endodontist right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:

It is considered one of the common dental procedures with high predicted success rates. However, like with any medical or dental treatment, you should always look at the possible consequences, side effects, and root canal risks. Our highly experienced professionals have performed procedures like this for years and have significantly minimised any potential risks.

Often, failure may result from bacteria present inside the treated tooth or surrounding the root tip. Hence, your dentist is trained to thoroughly clean and sterilise the canals when doing root canal therapy. According to the ADA, you may also require an antibiotic treatment to control any infection following the process. 

It has been shown that, in some cases, sealing material that has been overfilled or underfilled can lead to a greater likelihood of failure.

It is essential to have a complete restoration that strengthens a treated tooth and offers an appropriate seal to prevent bacteria from getting in and causing complications.

Your teeth will not be as strong as they were before the infection and root canal treatment. Because all the living parts of the tooth are removed during the procedure, teeth are potentially quite brittle afterwards.

This is because one of the primary functions of the tooth pulp is to keep the tooth moist and nourished. Thus, following a root canal, crowns are often recommended to protect the tooth’s surface.

Teeth often have more canals than roots, making them difficult to locate and navigate. Complications may arise if your dentist overlooks a canal.

The common reason for root canal therapy failure is the reoccurrence of infection or improper removal. When this occurs, there is no other option but to repeat the procedure.

If any of these symptoms occur during or after your root canal, In that case, an endodontist will perform endodontic re-treatment to address the condition, relieve any discomfort, and restore your tooth’s functionality.

Some of the causes of failed treatment are the following

Despite these risks and side effects, root canal therapy is still one of the safest, most successful, and most beneficial dental procedures available today. Getting the appropriate treatment will keep your mouth healthy and pain-free.

Prospect Road Dental Surgery
Dr. Abhi Singh
Dr. Abhi is a member of the Australian Dental Association and loves living and working in our community. He has eight years of experience in all aspects of dentistry, with a special interest in dental implants, wisdom teeth extraction, and cosmetic dentistry.