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  • Dr Vyla Ellis

There's no need to lose your troubled tooth... you can save it

Root canal. It probably conjures up memories of some horror story your mate told you at the pub that one time. The truth is that root canal is a highly effective and comfortable procedure which can save your tooth with long lasting results.

Why do I need a root canal?

If the nerve within a tooth (known as the pulp) becomes inflamed or infected the tooth will need a root canal in order to be saved. This may occur due to decay, cracks in the tooth, a traumatic injury, loose fillings, heavy wear to the tooth or gum disease

Does it work or am I just going to end up having the tooth out anyway?

Root canal is only performed if the tooth has a good chance of lasting a long time. There is always a risk with any dental treatment that something could go wrong either during or after treatment and this may result in further treatment being required or the tooth being removed. Root canal has a good success rate and most treatments are successful.

Will it hurt?

A local anaesthetic is used to numb the tooth the same as for fillings. The treatment is comfortable. There is sometimes discomfort after treatment but this is usually mild. We often overcome this by placing anti-inflammatories into the tooth during treatment.

What's the cost?

Root canal is usually less expensive than having the tooth removed and replaced. The cost will vary depending on the complexity involved. Back teeth are usually more expensive than front teeth. Your dentist should provide you with an estimate prior to treatment.

Do I need to see a specialist?

In the vast majority of cases the root canal treatment can be performed by a dentist. Experience and training in root canal treatment varies between dentists and this impacts the need for a specialist referral. At out clinic only highly complex treatments will require a specialist referral.

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment removes the infection and pain from a tooth which allows the tooth to be saved.

Step 1: The pulp is accessed and medication is placed within the tooth to start the healing process and relieve pain.

Step 2: The infected pulp and bacteria are removed from the canals within the tooth roots by a combination of small files and flushing out the tooth with solution.

Step 3: The canals within the roots are filled up with a rubber material to seal them which prevents re-infection.

Step 4: The tooth is restored with a filling/cap/crown/ceramic restoration. This allows the tooth to look and function as a normal tooth.

This treatment is usually completed over 2 to 4 appointments

What happens after the treatment?

After root canal the biting surface of the tooth will need to be restored with either a filling or a "cap"/crown/ceramic restoration. Teeth that have this final treatment within 4 months of root canal treatment have a better prognosis. Your dentist will discuss with you the options. In some situations where there is limited tooth structure remaining the tooth is at risk of a vertical fracture. If this is the case a cap or ceramic restoration will be recommended to prevent fracture.

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