If your dentist recommends a root canal, you might feel nervous about the pain. In fact, as root canal procedures are carried out using local anaesthesia to numb the pain, they're usually no more painful than getting a filling or other dental treatment.
If your tooth has a pulp infection, a root canal treatment is usually the best choice for relieving the pain, swelling, sensitivity to temperature and other symptoms and restoring your oral health.
Root canal therapy (endodontic treatment) may be provided by a suitably experienced dentist or endodontist. Depending on how complex your situation is, the treatment may require several visits to the dental clinic.
If your dentist spots signs of an infection in your tooth after taking x-rays, they may recommend a root canal. They will discuss what the procedure involves and what the possible risks are so you can decide if you want to go ahead.
After injecting local anaesthetic to numb the pain, your dentist will open the tooth, remove the infected tissue, clean and disinfect the site and place a synthetic material in its place. Your tooth will then be sealed using a custom-made dental crown or large filling.
Root canals are performed under anaesthesia, so you shouldn't feel any pain. If a root canal treatment takes a long time, this can prolong the discomfort, but anaesthetic will be reapplied when needed. You can also ask your dentist about other sedation options they offer if you need some help to feel calm.
Your mouth may feel painful for up to a few days after the treatment, but this may be managed by taking pain relief medication.
In many cases, a root canal treatment is the only way to stop a tooth pulp infection while also saving the tooth. The procedure has a high success rate, with 90% to 95% of patients having a functional tooth that can last for many years afterwards as long as good oral hygiene is followed.
The only alternative to a root canal is to extract the tooth, which will leave a gap that could cause nearby teeth to become crooked. Your dentist will then recommend replacing the missing tooth, which is more complex than a root canal.
If a tooth pulp infection is not treated in time, the infection may spread and affect the surrounding jaw bone and other teeth. This could mean that more teeth need to be treated or extracted. Dentists will always recommend trying to save a tooth rather than removing it.
You may feel pain or swelling for a few days after endodontic treatment. This can be managed using over-the-counter medication. If you still feel pain or have other unexpected symptoms after this time, you should make an emergency appointment with your dentist.
You should avoid hard, crunchy or sticky foods while wearing a temporary crown and shortly after your custom crown has been bonded into place. This lowers the risk of the crown becoming damaged or dislodged. Soft food and drinks are recommended while your mouth is still healing.
If you want to know more about what root canal treatment involves, contact our team at Face Value Dental. We'll make sure you have all the information you need about root canal risks and costs to make an informed decision about your oral health.
Healthdirect. Root canal treatment [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/root-canal-treatment
American Association of Endodontists. Post Treatment Care [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.aae.org/patients/your-office-visit/post-treatment-care/
Better Health Channel. Root canal treatment [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/root-canal-treatment
Healthdirect. Dental bridge procedure [Online] 2017 [Accessed May 2019] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-bridge-procedure