Your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment when the dental pulp inside your tooth becomes inflamed or infected.

If it remains untreated, it can cause significant discomfort and lead to an abscess.

What is dental pulp?

Dental pulp is soft tissue containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. It is housed in your root canals.

How does the pulp become infected?

The infection or inflammation can have a variety of causes such as deep decay, a cracked or chipped tooth, failing crowns, or even repeated dental procedures on the tooth. Pulp damage can occur if the tooth experienced trauma, even if there are no visible signs such as a chipped tooth.

What are the warning signs of an infected or inflamed tooth?

  • Toothache
  • Developing sensitivity to temperature
  • Discolouration
  • Tenderness or inflammation of the gums
  • Head, neck, or earaches
  • Swelling of the jaw

Can you describe the procedure?

Your dentist administers a local anaesthetic to the area to keep you comfortable. Then the infected or inflamed dental pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected before being filled and sealed with gutta-percha, a rubber-like material.

Afterwards, your dentist uses a filling or dental crown to restore the tooth.

How long does a root canal take?

The length of the procedure depends on the tooth involved, but on average, it takes 1-2 hours. The treatment can be completed in a single visit, but occasionally requires a second appointment. The restoration of a dental crown will require additional appointments.

Is the procedure uncomfortable?

The anaesthetic should keep you comfortable during the procedure. Root canal treatment actually relieves your discomfort because the diseased dental pulp is removed.

Once the anaesthetic wears off, you may experience some tenderness and redness around the area, but that quickly dissipates.

Over-the-counter medicines can help to minimise any discomfort.

Why not just extract the infected tooth?

A root canal is a cost-effective way to treat pulp infection and save your natural tooth from extraction. It is usually less expensive than extraction and the placement of a dental implant or bridge. Root canal treatment has a high success rate and many root canal treated teeth last a long time.

Although the advances in dental technology are incredible, it is always better to try and save your natural tooth so you can continue to enjoy a wide variety of foods, a well-balanced diet and good overall health.

For more information regarding this treatment

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