All You Want To Know About Root Canal Treatment

cropped view of smiling woman holding tooth model isolated on white

Root canals are important for keeping your teeth healthy. And luckily, they’re not as painful as they used to be. Thanks to modern dental techniques, getting a root canal these days is pretty straightforward and pain-free. 

Here’s a look at what you can expect when you go for a root canal treatment at Honest Tooth Dental Care in St Leonards.

Summary of the content

  • A root canal procedure involves treating severely infected or damaged tooth pulp, saving the tooth from extraction and relieving pain.
  • Signs you may need root canal therapy include severe tooth pain, sensitivity to hot/cold, swollen gums, tooth discolouration, loose teeth, and more.
  • During a root canal, expect 1-2 appointments, X-rays for diagnosis, removal of infected tissue, cleaning, disinfection, filling, and sealing.
  • Post-procedure discomfort is normal but manageable with over-the-counter painkillers.
  • Aftercare includes avoiding chewing on the treated tooth, maintaining regular oral hygiene, and visiting the dentist for check-ups.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure performed to treat a tooth that has a severely infected or damaged pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. 

When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed due to factors such as deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, cracks or chips, or trauma to the tooth, it can cause significant pain and sensitivity.

This procedure helps to save your tooth from extraction and alleviate any pain or discomfort you feel from the infection. It allows you to retain your natural teeth while maintaining its oral function and aesthetics.

Root canals are common and generally successful. Many patients have experienced long-term relief and improved dental health following the treatment. 

Signs you need a root canal treatment

Knowing for sure whether you need root canal therapy requires a visit to your dentist. However, you should be aware of several warning signs early on, as they could indicate the need to save your tooth. Here are the symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Severe tooth pain
  • Increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperature
  • Pain when touching the tooth
  • Swollen gums and jaw
  • Tooth discolouration
  • Cracked or chipped tooth
  • Gum pimples
  • Loose tooth
  • Pain while chewing or biting

These signs could indicate an infection within your tooth. Your root canal dentist will examine the tooth and may use X-rays for a more precise diagnosis to determine if a root canal is needed. Remember that some infected teeth may not always exhibit obvious symptoms, so visiting your dentist regularly is highly advisable. 

Dentist showing patient her X-ray teeth image

What happens during a root canal?

A root canal treatment typically involves 1-2 appointments, depending on the complexity of your case. 

1st appointment

During the first appointment, your dentist takes an X-ray to examine your root canals for signs of infection. Because the network of the roots in teeth is very complex, we use CBCT X-ray technology at our St Leonards practice to provide precise imaging of the root canals for accuracy. 

You’ll receive anaesthesia before the procedure to numb the area around your tooth so you won’t feel any pain.

First, they will create an opening to access the infected or damaged pulp. The infected tissue is then carefully removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected to remove any remaining bacteria. Medication may be applied inside the tooth to clear up any infection. 

Following cleaning, the tooth is filled and sealed with a temporary filling to prevent further infection. You may be advised to wait a week before returning to the clinic to assess your response to the treatment.

Since your tooth is weaker after a root canal, a dental crown may be recommended to strengthen it. This custom-made crown typically takes a couple of weeks to be ready. Once prepared, you’ll return to the dentist to have it fitted.

Second appointment

In your second appointment, the dentist fills the inside of your tooth with a special material and permanently seals the tooth with a filling, typically using a rubber-like material known as gutta-percha. If judged to be clinically needed, your dentist will then place a customised crown as a final touch once the tooth has settled down, restoring your tooth’s strength and appearance. In other instances, a filling is all that is needed following the root canal treatment. 

Is it painful?

It’s normal to feel a bit of discomfort after a root canal since it’s a big dental procedure. The deep cleaning inside your tooth can irritate the nerves and gums, but this doesn’t last too long. Usually, over-the-counter painkillers are enough to ease this mild pain.

After the treatment, your tooth might be sensitive for a few days, but this is because the infection that was causing pain is gone. However, if you have throbbing pain afterwards, it’s important to let your root canal dentist know right away, as it could mean there’s still some infection left.

What happens after a root canal therapy?

Right after your treatment, you might need to take it easy until the numbness from the anaesthesia goes away, which could take about an hour. You can either rest at home or, if you feel okay, go on with your day.

Your tooth might be sensitive for a little while after the treatment, but this usually doesn’t last more than a few days, but sometimes can persist a little longer.

To ensure your root canal lasts a long time, taking good care of your teeth is important. Here’s what you should do:

  • Avoid chewing with the treated tooth for a little while.
  • Keep up with regular brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups.

The girl smiles at the dentist and looks at her

Getting a root canal may not be anyone’s idea of fun, but today’s technology has transformed it into a comfortable and successful procedure — often compared to having a simple filling. The great news is that most teeth treated with a root canal can stay healthy and strong for many years.

If you think you need a root canal in St Leonards or have any questions about the procedure, feel free to contact us today on 02 9436 1874 or book an appointment online. We’d be happy to get you started.