Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is a procedure where infected contents in nerve chambers are removed and the chamber is filled to prevent reinfection.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

 Pulp or nerve chambers sit in the middle of the teeth. In some instances, the dental pulp becomes infected and leads to a toothache or abscess around the roots. If the dental abscess becomes large you may see painful swelling in the mouth near the tooth or swelling of the face and jaw.

If the nerve chamber is infected, the dentist disinfects the infected chambers. This process kills and eliminates all bacteria. Finally, the canals are filled with a special dental material to prevent further infection.

What are the symptoms of pulp tissue damage?

The most common symptoms are:

  1. Pain – It can be a dull or throbbing toothache. Most of the time the pain will radiate from the cheek to head, ear, chin and neck.
  2. Sensitivity – Unbearable response to cold or hot food and drinks.
  3. Facial swelling – Abscess near the teeth, jaw or face.

We refer to these as ‘root canal symptoms.’

What causes root canal tratment?

1. Decay, caries or cavities – The most common cause is dental decay. A cavity should be filled as soon as it is detected. If left untreated, the cavity will become large and eventually spread and reach the nerve. Once the hole reaches the nerve, the bacteria will infect the root canals. This will lead to toothache and dental abscess.

2. Deep filling – If the hole is deep and close to the pulp, the dentist has to place a filling which will be very close to the pulp. If the filling is too close to the nerve, it may get infected slowly. Dentists can’t predict the time frame for the tooth to become infected. If infected, you may experience a throbbing pain or a dental abscess.

3. Broken filling – If the fracture in the tooth is close to the nerve, bacteria can enter the nerve chamber and infect the root canals.

4. Loose filling – Loose fillings create a tiny space in between the filling and tooth surface. This space is big enough for the bacteria to enter and multiply. Brushing cannot clean this area and it provides a safe place for bugs to grow. After some time, bacteria will reach the nerve chamber.

5. Dislodged filling –  When a filling dislodges, it creates a large hole in the tooth. It is difficult to clean this space, and this space is an ideal hiding place for bacteria. Eventually, the bacteria will reach the dental nerve canal.6. Worn out teeth surfaces – Teeth surfaces wear out for many reasons. This includes night-time grinding and excessive intake of acidic food or drink. Once teeth are worn out, the nerve chamber or pulp becomes exposed, which allows bacteria to reach the nerve chamber.

If you have a toothache, our dentists will first remove the infected nerve which is inside the tooth. They will then place some medication in the nerve chamber to reduce the pain and infection and leave the tooth for some time to settle.

The procedure for nerve canal therapy

The dentist will apply a rubber dam on the tooth. This will isolate the tooth and act like a raincoat, preventing cross-contamination to the root canals.

Bendigo dentist performing root canal treatment on female patient

The next step is finding the nerve canals. Canals are very thin and narrow and the number of canals differs depending on each tooth.

The dentist cleans the root canals using special chemicals. This will kill all the bacteria in the pulp chamber. The next step is to determine the canal’s length. The dentist will use small dental x rays and some instruments to determine the correct length.

The dentist then widens the canals and cleans them many times with special chemicals. This procedure will remove the remaining hidden bacteria beneath the canal surfaces.

Finally, the dental professional fills the canals with a plastic type of filling.

If the crown portion of the tooth is weak, then you must make a porcelain crown to cover the entire tooth. Teeth porcelain crowns provide strength to the tooth and prevent fracture of teeth.

What are the tooth problems after root canal treatment?

1. Tooth fracture : The root filled tooth may become weak as time progresses and may lead to it fracturing. Placing a full crown will prevent the fracture.

2. Discolouration of tooth : After the root filling, the tooth may become discoloured. If this happens, there are many options including teeth bleaching procedures or porcelain crowns.

3. Pain or discomfort : Some patients experience pain after their final treatment. It may take some time for the pain to subside. If the pain persists, please see a dental professional.

4. Re-infection of root canals : In some instances, infection near the tip of the root will start to flare up. This may reinfect the tooth. In these cases, the treatment may need re-doing.  In rare cases, patients will need a small surgery to remove the infection underneath the tip of the root in the bone.

5. Crack extending to the root of the tooth : If this happens, we will need to extract the tooth.

If you would like to know more information, please contact our dentist at Bendigo Dental on 5442 2012.