Root canal treatment (RCT) is a procedure used to save a tooth which has either irreversible inflammation of the nerve or ‘pulp’, or the nerve is dead and the tooth is infected.
The pulp is a mixture of blood vessels and nerve fibres and is contained within a tiny canal down the roots of the tooth – different teeth have different numbers of canals which require cleaning. A tooth requiring RCT usually but not always causes pain. Typically the pain is of a type which is severe, throbbing, unrelenting and does not ease with pain killers. We try to keep toothache appointments available every day for this kind of procedure.
The Root Canal Process:
- The first step is a consultation to diagnose the condition, discuss options and costs and take necessary x-rays.
- If you decide that RCT is for you we then anaesthetise the tooth to make it totally comfortable and then place on a rubber dam. Rubber dams are used routinely for RCT and is a plastic sheet through which a small hole is made and the tooth pokes through it. It prevents water or tiny instruments going into the mouth and also prevents saliva and bacteria entering the tooth.
- We then locate each of the root canals in the tooth. There can be one or several canals depending on the size and shape of the tooth and sometimes the anatomy of them can be very complex. The cost is dependent on the number of canals and complexity.
- We use a special machine called an apex locator combined with x-rays to ensure the canal has been prepared to the appropriate length.
- If the treatment is very complex or the tooth has had a root canal treatment in the past which has not been successful you may be referred to a specialist in RCT in Toowoomba or Brisbane. These specialists are known as Endodontists and they have specialised skills and equipment including microscopes to help them to perform their work.
- After the removal of the inflamed/infected pulp from the tooth, an antibacterial dressing is placed into the canals to reduce pain and infection and eliminate bacteria. The tooth is usually restored with a temporary filling over the top. At the first visit we may only have time to get you out of pain but if there is time available we will finish the debridement completely.
- We then prepare the canal/canals exactly to the end of the root and smooth, shape and further disinfect the canal so it is able to be filled adequately (x-ray required).
- At your next visit, usually a few weeks to a month later, we then seal the canals to prevent further bacterial growth. This completes the root canal treatment.
A tooth which has had root canal treatment is usually heavily filled and is at risk of breaking or splitting. This is why it is very important to place a strong restoration with a good seal on the tooth (preferably a crown) to protect the tooth from cracking and to prevent germs reinfecting the canals.