Root canal treatment is the removal of the pulp tissue from your tooth. It is usually carried out because the tooth pulp is dead or is dying. Root canal treatment allows you to retain a tooth that otherwise would need to be removed.
Why Do I need Root Canal Treatment?
A tooth can die due to any trauma to the tooth pulp, which is the living part in the centre of your tooth. This is often due to untreated tooth decay. Once the decay gets to the tooth pulp, the bacteria which cause the decay irritate the pulpal tissues. The tooth eventually starts to die and this is when root canal treatment is needed. Sometimes the tooth will die before you can get to the dentist and you can end up with a tooth abscess. This is a painful infection, from the tooth, affecting the bone underneath the tooth.
Sometimes a tooth will die due to trauma. This occurs after a fall or other trauma such as a car accident. The tooth can remain alive for a time afterwards, and it can even be many years later when the tooth dies. Signs of a tooth dying include darkening of the tooth, pain, looseness and infection above the gum line.
With a deep filling, sometimes it is too late to save the tooth without root canal, even if the tooth was alive prior to treatment. Remember although you will be numb, the deep filling and removal of decay is still traumatic for the pulp. This is why sometimes after a filling it can be painful for a little while. The pain is pulpitis and sometimes it is irreversible. If you get continued pain after a filling, it is best to return to the dentist to get the tooth checked.
What Does Root Canal Treatment Involve?
Root canal treatment involves a thorough cleaning of the pulp chamber and the thin canals which run within the roots of the tooth. This is both chemical and mechanical cleaning. Thorough cleaning should remove the bacteria that can cause an abscess as well as any tissue that may release toxins. It is usually best to leave a medicated dressing within the tooth for optimum effect and this may be left within the tooth for up to 3 months. Due to this, you will usually have a temporary filling between visits and there can be multiple visits for the cleaning procedure.
After the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned and is symptom free, a root filling is placed within the roots of the tooth to seal it all the way through. A filling will be placed on top of this also. Usually a full coverage restoration, such as a crown is recommended for any back teeth that have had root canal treatment, due to their risk of future fracture. This is often the case for front teeth also. The crown keeps the root canals sealed from the bacteria in your mouth, preventing return of the infection, while simultaneously binding the tooth together to help reduce the risk of tooth fracture.
How much does root canal treatment cost?
The cost of root canal treatment varies from case to case and tooth to tooth. Some teeth have a single straight root canal. Molar teeth can have four or five root canals, often one root will have more than one canal. These canals are more curved, making effective cleaning more difficult. Costs for a single canal front tooth can be from $600, and for a four canal molar from $1200. This will increase with complexity and is for the root canal only. Remember, you will also need a final restoration. When you attend for assessment at Darlinghurst Dental, you will receive a written quote for all treatment to be undergone. If you already have had a quote, email it to us and we can let you know how much you could save.
Does Root Canal Treatment Always Work?
No, like all medical procedures, there is a risk of failure. Best results are achieved with early diagnosis and treatment. In more complex cases, there can be a significant increase in success by seeing a specialist, called an endodontist. If a root canal treatment has been previously attempted and failed, it is usually best to see a specialist. To protect the tooth after root canal treatment, a crown or other protective restoration may be recommended.
Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?
Root canal treatment is not usually painful, as the tooth is anaesthetised to stop any pain. Root canal treatment has an unfair reputation for pain as when people think back about root canal treatment, they remember pain, but the root canal treatment is usually what stopped the pain. However, sometimes root canal treatment is painful. This tends to be in an emergency case. It is common for some mild to moderate discomfort after the procedure when the anaesthetic has worn off. Occasionally this can be severe, so if it is severe, you should contact the dentist. Usually given time it will resolve on its own, but if it is impinging on eating and daily activities, it is always best to check.