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Endodontics/Root Canal Treatment

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry dedicated to the treatment and maintenance of the pulp of the teeth.

The pulp is the soft tissue at the tooth’s centre that contains the nerve and blood supply to the tooth. The most common procedure involving the pulp is root canal treatment.

A root canal treatment is a procedure that involves the removal of the soft tissue within a tooth that has become infected or inflamed. This soft tissue is referred to as “pulp.”

When the pulp becomes infected, it can be incredibly painful to eat or chew and there may be swelling after the pulp is removed. The root canal is cleaned, disinfected and filled with a non-reactive material. A filling is then put over it to seal the root canal filling and prevent further bacterial infection. If the tooth needs more support it may need a crown or an onlay.

A root canal can prevent a tooth from being extracted and can also relieve the pain and discomfort from an infection.

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  • FAQ

Why might I need to have a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is the treatment required for an inflamed or infected pulp, and where the remaining tooth structure can still be restored. An infected and inflamed pulp can lead to toothache and treatment. However, a tooth can show signs of an infection and still be pain-free or may have an infection for a long time without showing any signs or symptoms. Once an infection is diagnosed, having root canal treatment will essentially save a diseased tooth from extraction. Signs of infection severe enough to need root canal treatment are:

  • Intense toothache when eating or when pressure is put on the tooth
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold which lingers after the temperature stimulus is removed.
  • Discomfort, tenderness and swelling (abscess) on the gum near the tooth causing pain.
  • Facial swelling (abscess) on the side of the tooth causing pain.
  • Infection is visible on an x-ray. The tooth may be symptom-free.

Our dentists are knowledgeable and highly experienced in pain management techniques and root canal treatments, and will ensure their patients are as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure.

What causes pulp damage and discomfort?

The most common causes of pulp damage are:

  • Untreated tooth decay which has extended into the pulp. The bacteria within the decay will cause an infection of the pulp, slowly causing the death of the nerve and blood supply to the tooth.
  • Decay underneath an existing filling, crown, onlay or inlay. If the seal of these restorations is damaged or there is regular food trapping between teeth the decay process can start and bacteria can access the pulp.
  • A traumatic injury to the tooth.
  • A crack in the tooth caused by excessive grinding and clenching or trauma.

When is it time to see your dentist for a root canal treatment?

If you are experiencing any pain, extreme sensitivity, or swelling of the face or gums then you need to see your dentist as soon as possible. They will examine your specific case and determine the best treatment option.

Why should the pulp be removed?

If a damaged or infected pulp is not removed the bacteria can infect and damage the bone around the root eventually causing a cyst or extensive bone loss. At this stage, the tooth may have to be extracted.  

How is root canal treatment performed?

A root canal treatment is a delicate process. The success of the treatment is related to the complexity of the tooth itself and the competency of the dentist. At Platinum Dental Care we have specific dentists that have a special interest in endodontics and are highly skilled at performing root canal treatments.

The process of a root canal treatment is outlined below:

The tooth will initially be thoroughly investigated and tested and any risks or complications will be explained. The tooth and the area around it will then be numbed to prevent pain or discomfort during the treatment. If the tooth cannot be numbed because of the size of the infection, it’s unlikely that your dentist will continue with the treatment, and the infection may have to be treated systemically first.

Next, a rubber dam will be placed to isolate the tooth which keeps it clean and allows better visibility for the dentist as well as comfort for the patient.  Once the tooth is fully numb, the old filling or decay is removed, including the infected pulp. This will then give access to the root canals which are progressively disinfected, shaped and filled. The tooth is then restored with a core filling and then prepared for either a crown or an onlay on the same or following appointment. Various x-rays may be taken during the treatment to check the progress.

The permanent crown or onlay will be fitted 1-2 weeks later to seal the root canal treatment and restore its look and function.

How long will a tooth that has had root canal treatment last?

The success and survival of a root treated tooth depend on many factors such as the state and anatomy of the tooth, and size of the infection prior to the root canal treatment, any complications during treatment, any decyl or fracture of the tooth after the root canal treatment and any gum disease. Having regular dental exams and cleaning can help to keep your mouth healthy and improve your survival of root treated teeth.

What is the “pulp” of a tooth?

The pulp is the soft, living tissue which extends from the centre of the tooth (pulp chamber) into the roots. It contains nerves, tissue, and blood vessels and is housed by two hard outer layers of dentine and enamel. 

Signs that you might need a root canal

  • Mouth pain that can range from a sharp pain to a dull ache lasting more than 10 minutes.
  • Increased sensitivity to cold and heat. 
  • Swelling in or around your face.
  • The presence of an abscess.
  • Discomfort and pain while biting, talking, or eating.
  • A change in the colour of a tooth.

Some infected teeth can be painless and show no outward signs of infection and can only be detected on a dental x-ray. Despite this, infections will not heal on their own, and it is vital that routine dental exams are scheduled to check for the possibility of infected teeth and prevent infections. If you are in pain with a toothache or have swelling please book an emergency appointment with us. 

What happens during a root canal?

A root canal treatment is a procedure that generally consists of two appointments (although more appointments may be needed).

  • First visit: At the initial appointment, your dentist will place some anaesthetic and then carefully remove the pulp that is infected or inflamed and clean and disinfect the pulp chamber. They will then check and confirm that the rest of the tooth is strong and healthy. The root canal is then reshaped and filled with a temporary filling to seal the chamber until your next appointment. 


  • Second visit: At the following appointment, the dentist will confirm the infection is cleared and that you are pain-free.  More cleaning and disinfection may be required and then the temporary filling with be replaced with a permanent one. 

Some patients may require a crown (‘cap’) on top of the tooth that provides additional protection, support and a seal for the tooth structure following the root canal.

Patients should avoid biting down hard on the treated tooth until after the crown has been fitted to prevent the tooth from cracking.

Benefits of a root canal.
There are many benefits to undergoing a root canal treatment, including:

  • The alleviation of the discomfort caused by the infection.
  • Hindering the spread of infection and inflammation throughout the mouth.
  • Preservation of the natural tooth, jawbone and facial structure.

How will I feel after my root canal?

Some patients may experience some discomfort during the first few days after their root canal treatment. You may be prescribed antibiotics to guard against infection if you have swelling. A few days after the root canal is completed, the discomfort should dissipate and you can resume eating, chewing and talking normally. 

How long will my restored tooth last? 

A tooth with a root canal can last for many years if you keep up with your daily cleanings and regular dental exams and professional cleanings. The longevity does also depend on several other factors including the state of the underlying tooth structure, level of initial infection etc. 

The dentists at Platinum Dental Care are available to answer any questions you may have about a root canal treatment. Contact them to learn more about how to keep your teeth healthy and strong. 

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