Root Canal Therapy/Treatment (RCT) removes infected tissue from the centre of the tooth or “pulp chamber.” The pulp chamber houses the nerves, blood vessels and cells required to maintain a healthy tooth. Once even a small portion of the pulp chamber becomes infected, it spreads throughout the entire pulp and down the roots very quickly. The tooth can no longer be restored with a filling alone.
What Does Root Canal Therapy involve?
- 1st stage of treatment: Following a thorough assessment, the dentist will start with a local anaesthetic to numb the area. The tooth will be isolated with a protective cover called a “rubber dam.” At the first appointment the dentist may simply “settle the tooth” by dressing the pulp with a special antibiotic and anti-inflammatory dressing. Otherwise they will use special instruments called files to simultaneously remove the infected and inflamed tissue and widen the canals in each of the roots.
- 2nd Stage of Treatment: Once the roots have been cleaned and shaped, they are then filled with rubber-based filling material. The dentist will usually take an x-ray to ensure the tooth is filled to the correct lengths.
- Final restoration: Your dentist will advise you what is best for the longevity of your tooth.
What are the alternatives?
The main alternative to root canal is extraction. Once extracted, your options are to either leave a space, or replace the tooth with either an implant, partial denture or bridge. Ask your dentist to discuss the options in more detail.
How much will it cost?
There is no “standard cost” for a Root Canal. It varies with the number of canals and overall difficulty. Your dentist will give you an estimate of the cost following your initial consultation. Please note, the final restoration is also required.
What if I have a difficult Root Canal? Is there anything that can be done?
If your dentist deems that the root canal is complex, there is always the option to see a specialist. Endodontists are specialists in RCT. They have done an additional 3 years of training in this field. Endodontists also have extremely high-tech equipment including high-powered microscopes, which allow them to see great detail and perform even difficult RCT cases. Your dentist will advise you if referral is recommended.
I’ve had Root Canal before and now the tooth is sore?
Root canal is normally around 90% successful after 10 years when performed the first time. However further decay or trauma to the tooth can cause re-infection. Specialist referral is usually required where the root canal may need to be re-treated. Other treatments may involve apicectomy (a special operation) or even investigations into external sources of pain.