What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment, or endodontic treatment, is a procedure performed on a tooth that may otherwise need to be removed (extracted). It removes the infected pulp (or nerve) of a tooth if previous deep decay or a traumatic incident like breaking the tooth causes the nerve to become inflamed and die.

For most people, the knee jerk reaction is to panic if a dentist or endodontist prescribes a root canal procedure. But there is no need to worry if you have a damaged or diseased tooth that needs treatment. Most of the fear around root canal treatment is because people don’t understand what the procedure involves. In this article, we’ll answer what a root canal treatment is, and why it’s so effective.

The Structure of a Tooth

All teeth have a soft tissue called pulp that sits in the middle of the tooth, protected beneath the hard white enamel that covers a tooth and the hard layer of dentin beneath that. The pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves which aid in the tooth’s growth during its development, and give the tooth “feeling”.

How a Root Canal Works

Root canal treatment is usually completed over the course of two to three appointments. If administered by an experienced dentist or endodontist there is very little pain and the treatment is extremely effective with a high success rate.

Root canal treatment becomes necessary when the inside of the tooth (the pulp) becomes inflamed or infected. This is usually as a result of deep decay, multiple dental procedures, chips or cracks in the tooth, or a traumatic accident. In some circumstances, trauma to the tooth can result in pulp damage even if the tooth shows no visible damage. If the inflamed pulp is not correctly treated the inflammation could lead to the formation of an abscess and considerable pain.

Root canal treatment refers to the process of:

  • Removing the inflamed or infected pulp
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the inside of the tooth
  • Filling and sealing the inside of the tooth with gutta-percha (a rubber-like material)

Once this work has been done, the tooth will be restored with a crown or filling for protection and will now function much the same as any other tooth.

Advantages of Root Canal Treatment

Successful root canal means you get to keep your tooth, which assists with efficient chewing and restores natural biting force and sensation.  The tooth looks normal and other teeth are protected from additional wear or movement. If the tooth is properly cared for and restored appropriately (often with a crown), it should last many years without requiring additional dental work.

We have several dentists who are comfortable with root canal treatment. We are also lucky to have Dr Pat Caldwell, who is a specialist endodontist with advanced training in microsurgical techniques

For more information on root canal treatment on the Sunshine Coast, please get in touch.