If you have an infection in your tooth that's causing pain or other problems, your dentist might suggest a root canal treatment.
If this sounds painful, you don't have to worry. Root canal therapy is a common dental procedure that's performed under local anaesthesia or other types of sedation to make sure you don't feel any pain.
Delaying or avoiding a root canal treatment because you're worried about pain could mean suffering worse pain and more intensive treatments in the long term if an infection spreads.
What is a root canal?
To understand how root canal treatments work, it's useful to know the anatomy of the tooth.
- Crown – the visible part of the tooth above the gum, the crown is covered by a hard layer of enamel. If this is damaged or wears down, it can expose the softer dentine underneath or expose the interior of the tooth to infection.
- Roots – the pointed ends that anchor the tooth in the jaw. Roots are normally hidden inside the gum, but they may be exposed if gums recede.
- Root canals – hollow spaces inside the roots containing the dental pulp, nerves and blood vessels.
- Pulp – the soft tissue inside the tooth. If the pulp is damaged or infected by bacteria, it usually needs to be removed through a root canal procedure.
When is a root canal treatment needed?
If you have an infected tooth, your dentist will normally recommend root canal therapy to save and restore the tooth to good working order. Signs of a pulp infection can include:
- Toothache or pain, especially when eating
- Teeth feeling more sensitive to temperature
- Your tooth looks dark or feels loose
- Swelling in your gum, face or neck
An infected tooth doesn't always have obvious symptoms. It's important to keep up with your regular check-ups so your dentist can spot signs of an infection or other problems before they become serious.
If an infection is allowed to spread, or your tooth is too badly damaged to repair, the only option may be to extract and replace the tooth.
What to expect during the root canal procedure
Your dentist will explain what's involved in the treatment so you know what to expect. Root canal therapy has several stages, which may be carried out over a series of appointments. These stages involve:
- Drilling into the tooth and carefully removing the infected pulp
- Thoroughly cleaning and reshaping the root canals
- Placing a sterile filling inside to protect the tooth against further infection
- Fitting a custom crown to seal and restore the tooth
Once a tooth has been treated with root canal therapy, it will no longer be sensitive, but will usually look and function as normal.
Pain-free root canals with dental sedation
As with other dental procedures, local anaesthetic will be administered before each stage of root canal treatment to numb the area of your mouth being treated, so you won't feel any pain.
If you have a resistance to anaesthesia, or you feel nervous about your treatment, your dentist may offer other sedation options to help you feel calm or provide additional pain relief.
Root canal treatment in Brisbane
If you're worried that you might have an infected tooth or you want to know more about our sedation options, get in touch with our friendly team at your local Swish Dental clinic in Brisbane. Call us in Everton Park on (07) 3355 1422 or Mitchelton on (07) 3354 3341.
You can also book an appointment online and our staff will get back to you as soon as we can.