Root Canal Treatment

A root canal treatment can save a badly infected or damaged tooth.

A dentist performs a root canal to remove bacteria and dying or dead tissue from inside the tooth. The pulp inside of the tooth can become infected with bacteria because of an injury or a severe, untreated cavity. Without treatment, the infection can cause pain and can worsen, sometimes making it necessary for your dentist to remove the tooth. A root canal treatment might be just what you need to get your smile back on track.

A root canal treatment involves drilling a hole into a decayed tooth and removing the soft centre, known as the dental pulp. The dental pulp is made up of connective tissue, nerves, and blood supply, and extends into the roots of the tooth. The crown, or surface of the tooth that is used for chewing, may also be replaced if necessary.

A root canal is essentially a four-step process. Treatment usually takes two office visits.

1. Numbing

First, your dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding gums. When the tooth is numb, your dentist might place a dental dam, a small sheet of rubber that isolates the tooth to keep it clean and dry during the procedure.

2. Cleaning

Your dentist will then use very small tools, such as a small drill, to access the inside of the tooth by creating an opening in the top portion of the tooth. Next, your dentist will use small files to clear away the damaged pulp from the inside of the tooth. They will also use the files to shape the inner chamber of the tooth and root and might irrigate the chamber with water to make sure there isn’t any infected pulp hiding out. Your dentist might also use an antimicrobial solution to kill any remaining bacteria in the chamber and reduce the risk for further infection.

3. Filling

Once the chamber is thoroughly cleaned and dried, your dentist will fill it with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Then your dentist will close the opening in your tooth with a temporary filling while you wait for the permanent crown.

4. Tooth Restoration

After a few weeks, your dentist will finish the treatment by placing a permanent crown or a similar type of restoration on the top of the tooth. Depending on the condition of your natural tooth, the dentist may need to place a small supporting post inside of the root chamber, to make the crown or restoration more stable.

Cross section model of a tooth, showing inside the gums and roots of the teeth

What To Expect

Booking Your Appointment

Root canal treatments usually take several visits to complete:

  • Consultation
  • Cleaning and filling
  • Tooth restoration

Before You Arrive

There is no special preparation needed for your appointment.

Length Of Appointment

The consultation and dental check-up can take 30 – 45 minutes. 

The root canal procedure will take approximately 60 – 90 minutes for each appointment.

During Your Appointment

You may be asked about:

  • Your dental history
  • Your normal oral care routine
  • Any problems

After You Leave

  • It is common for the tooth to be a little tender, this should resolve quickly, however you can contact us with any concerns.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene habits at home.
  • Avoid eating chewy or hard foods for the first few days
  • Take simple analgesics such as paracetamol for any post-treatment discomfort.
  • Ensure that you return for any follow-up treatment such as a crown.