The mere mention of a root canal is enough to send a shiver down most people’s spines. Pain and cost are the first thoughts that spring to mind. But what is a root canal? Many people don’t know. Carry on reading to learn more about root canal treatment, its purpose, and the procedure.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is actually the name for the hollow centre of the tooth or pulp that contains a network of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. The name of the dental procedure commonly referred to as root canal treatment is, in fact, endodontic therapy (‘endo’ meaning inside and ‘odont’ meaning tooth) and has been shorted to the term ‘root canal’ over the years.
So now we’ve cleared that up, when is a root canal needed?
Root canal treatment is typically needed when a tooth’s pulp (root canal) is injured, inflamed, or infected.
A root canal aims to remove bacteria from an infected tooth to prevent reinfection, save the natural tooth, and make it healthy again. Contrary to popular myths, root canal treatment is not painful and in fact, is designed to get you out of any discomfort. Root canal treatment is similar to a regular dental filling and can be completed in one or two sessions, depending on the tooth’s condition.
So now you have the answer to what is a root canal, let’s take a look at what happens during the root canal procedure.
The root canal procedure – what to expect
The root canal procedure is performed in three stages:
- The dentist drills a small access hole in the top of the crown, and using a special tool, removes any infection from within. If a dental abscess is present, the dentist will drain this simultaneously.
- Once the dentist has removed the pulp, they will clean and enlarge the root canal. The dentist may then use a topical antibiotic to eliminate the infection and prevent it from recurring.
- The tooth is filled and sealed with a rubbery material called gutta-percha. You may also be prescribed oral antibiotics.
- Finally, the dentist fills the access hole to prevent further bacterial leakage to the canals from saliva.
Following the root canal procedure, the tooth will be more fragile than before and may eventually turn brittle. Once all traces of infection have gone, the dentist will fill the tooth or place a dental crown to restore aesthetics and functionality.
So, that’s what a root canal is. It eliminates pain, and in most cases, it saves the tooth. Protecting a natural tooth is always the best course of action, where possible, and will save a patient the cost of tooth extraction and the potential expense of a dental implant.
Do you have a painful tooth?
If you’re suffering from dental pain, we can help. Schedule an appointment with the experienced team at Dental Excellence. We’ll examine your mouth and take an x-ray to ascertain the shape of the root canals and see if there is an infection in the surrounding bone. If so, we will treat it using the latest methods coupled with gentle dental care.
Call us on (02) 6188 7293 today.
American Association of Endodontists – Guide to Clinical Endodontics
American Association of Endodontists – Myths About Root Canals
Finder.com.au – How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?