Root Canal Treatment (Endodontics)

When is Root Canal Treatment carried out?

This dental procedure is carried out when the innermost part of the tooth ‘the pulp’ becomes badly decayed or infected. If left untreated, the tooth will begin to die which could lead to the loss of the tooth. To save the tooth, the infected pulp needs to be removed to prevent the formation of an abscess. In dental terms this procedure is called ‘Endodontics’.

The tooth is made up of

  • Enamel – The hard outer layer of the tooth.
  • Dentine – This forms the core and gives the basic shape to the tooth which supports the enamel, it is softer than enamel but harder than bone.
  • Pulp – Is the central part of the tooth which contains nerves and blood vessels and lies within the root canal


Why would the pulp (nerve and blood vessels) die?

  • Caries – If caries ‘decay’ is left it will travel through the enamel and dentine down into the pulp chamber. 
  • Trauma – A severe knock that affects the pulp. 
  • Severe Gum Disease - The gum detaches itself from the tooth creating a gap between the tooth and the gum, bacteria then gets trapped causing an infection which can infect the pulp. 


What are some of the symptoms if the pulp is damaged?

  • Pain – This can be anything form a constant dull ache to severe pain or pain only when biting
  • A spot (pimple like swelling) sometimes appears on the gum in the area of the infected tooth, this is where the collection of pus from the root tip is draining which will leave a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Swelling in the gum area surrounding your tooth
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot and/or cold
  • Discolouration of the tooth
  • A bad taste in the mouth


How long is the entire treatment process?

root canal therapyThe process is usually spanned over 3-4 visits. Our doctors will first see the patient for a Comprehensive Examination and Diagnosis to discuss the options and draw up an individualized treatment plan. The root canal treatment is then performed in one treatment.


root canal treatment crownBecause a root canal treated tooth is more brittle without the pulp, it will need a full restoration to protect it from tooth fracture. On the third visit, our doctors will fabricate a crown (tooth cap) for the treated tooth. Depending on the type of crown our doctor thinks will best suit the patient's biting habits, this crown preparation can be done on site with our CEREC porcelain crown milling machine in a 1.5hour session; or sent to a lab to be fabricated.


Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime.

Also, because the final step of the root canal procedure is application of a restoration such as a crown, it will not be obvious to onlookers that a root canal was performed.


Will a Root Canal Treatment be painful?

Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. Actually, most people report that it is no more unpleasant than a regular filling. In the majority of cases, root canal work is painless, often done under a local anaesthetic. It is the rare case when the initial treatment may cause you some discomfort or slight pain, which can be overcome subsequently with a suitable anaesthetic technique. 


What are the benefits of Root Canal Treatment over Extraction?

Extraction Space Maintainer BooksIf pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can eventually cause pain, swelling and loss of the supporting bone. Root canal treatment saves teeth that would otherwise have been extracted.

While extraction may be a quicker and cheaper option, it often leads to subsequent problems. Imagine your teeth as books neatly arranged on a bookshelf, taking one out will reseult in the drifting or tilting of surrounding teeth into the empty space, destabilizing the whole dental arch and neighbouring teeth.

If, in the dentist's opinion, a tooth is a strategic and useful one, then it certainly is worth the time and expense required for root canal treatment to save that tooth.

How different will a Root Canal Treated tooth feel?

A root-canal-treated tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene measures. As the tooth no longer has a nerve supply within itself, you will not feel any pain or sensitivity from that tooth to such stimuli as cold, heat, sweet and sour.

 After root canal treatment, the tooth is pulpless - it has no vital tissues within. However, there are vital tissues surrounding the root (e.g. the gum, periodontal membrane and supporting bone). Hence, any infection of these supporting tissues will still enable you to feel pain or discomfort to such stimulus as pressure from touching or biting. In addition, infection of the gums surrounding that the tooth will also lead to a painful and sore tooth.


For home care instructions post Root Canal Treatment, please refer to our Post-Treatment Care page.