What is a root canal?

Root canal – these are two words that often cause anxiety in dental patients, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

A root canal is a relatively standard procedure that helps rid a tooth of infection yet maintains its function and structure.

And, courtesy of modern anaesthetics and best dental practice, a root canal does not have to be a painful procedure, but rather an effective way of fixing a tooth that is damaged by decay or trauma.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a way of saving and repairing a badly infected or damaged tooth. It involves removing the affected pulp inside the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the area and then filling the space that remains or sealing the area with a crown.

The term comes from the fact the canal/s in the roots of the tooth are cleaned as part of the process. These canals often contain the nerves that are responsible for tooth pain.

When is a root canal required?

There are three main reasons that a root canal may be required.

  • Tooth decay has penetrated the outer layers of the tooth and impacts the pulp. (This decay will likely cause pain in the tooth that the patient is aware of.)
  • Trauma, like a crack or chip to the tooth has caused tooth decay and resulted in root canal pain
  • Risk factors such as extensive dental work, large fillings or tooth trauma may prompt a dentist to recommend a pre-emptive root canal

Signs and symptoms a root canal is required

Not all patients experience the same symptoms prior to their dentist recommending a root canal. However common signs a root canal may be required include:

  • Serious teeth pain when pressure is applied to the area
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • A pimple like swelling on the gum near the tooth
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Tenderness of the gums surrounding the tooth

The procedure

A root canal is a standard procedure performed by dental practitioners who have additional expertise in endontics.

First the tooth is x-rayed to ascertain the extent of the decay, then the area surrounding the tooth is numbed. Your dentist will then proceed to remove the area of decay including the infected pulp and nerve.

Once the infected material has been removed, the dentist will either fill the area the same day or insert a temporary filling until a custom-made crown can be fitted.

Avoiding a root canal

The best way to avoid a root canal is to maintain vigilant dental hygiene and to visit your dentist on at least an annual basis.

This allows your dental practitioner to flag any issues early, prior to decay affecting the pulp of your tooth.

But the truth is, a root canal is not the invasive procedure it was once considered.

With today’s new technology and stress management options such as medications and conscious sedation, for many patients, root canal therapy is akin to having a filling.

About Brite Dental

Brite Dental is a community-focused dental practice, committed to ensuring you and your family receive the highest quality of care in a warm and professional environment.

Offering a full range of dental services ranging, from children’s dentistry through to high-end cosmetic dentistry, we are conveniently located in central Panania.

You can learn more about our dental services here, or contact us to book your next appointment.