A root canal therapy is necessary when the inside of the tooth and area around it becomes infected due to cracking, deep decay or injury.
A tooth is mainly made of a hard material called dentine and the visible part of the tooth, the crown, is encased by enamel. Beneath the gum line is the root which anchors the tooth to your jaw. Generally, front teeth have only one root, while molars have several. There may be multiple root canals in one root.
The hollow centre of a tooth contains blood vessels, nerves and pulp (a sensitive tissue that provides oxygen, nutrients and feeling to the tooth). The main function of the dental pulp is to regulate the growth and development of the tooth during childhood.
However, once the tooth is fully formed, it no longer requires the pulp to function and, in the majority of cases, can be kept indefinitely.
Symptoms of a diseased tooth
Pain is usually the first sign of an infected tooth, this is when the nerves and pulp contained within the tooth are decaying and can cause severe pain which needs to be attended to immediately. A diseased tooth pulp may cause inflammation or infection.
- Unprovoked or spontaneous pain
- Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and foods
- Painful biting and chewing
- Tender or swollen gums
- Discolouration or loosening of the tooth
- Swelling of the face
- Discharge surrounding the affected tooth
Our dentist will listen to your symptoms, examine your teeth and perform other assessments including taking digital x-rays. These x-rays also help us plan for the root canal treatment by revealing the number, size and curvature and depth of the roots. This will help to determine the complexity of the case.
If the infection is left untreated, complications could include:
- Spreading infection
- Localised bone loss
- Loss of tooth (the tooth may have to be removed and replacements such as dentures, bridges and dental implants may not be possible or may not be tolerated).
Why have root canal therapy?
Keeping your natural teeth for as long as possible is important for your overall health, well-being and enjoyment of all types of food. Root canal treatment involves several steps, which are used to allow one the chance to maintain the structure of a natural tooth and regenerate healthy bone structure.
The process has several steps:
- It involves removal of the infected material as well as any other damaged and decayed material inside the tooth.
- The area is then cleaned and shaped, sterilising the area.
- The space is filled and sealed with advanced filling materials and hardware.
- The visible face of the tooth can then be capped with a crown or complex filling depending on the strength of the remaining natural tooth structure and your requirements.
Teeth treated by root canal procedures should last a very long time, provided that you maintain good oral hygiene and generally look after your teeth. The optimal long-term result is to save the tooth and prevent it from future infection, giving you a tooth that is strong and that will last as long as your other healthy teeth.
Root canal treatment in Melbourne
At Iris Dental, our success rate is extremely high as we have invested in specific training in endodontic treatments. Our practice has also installed new tools and equipment that allow our dentists to perform advanced diagnosis and treatment as each case is quite different:
For very complex cases where the canals are twisted and deep, we do refer our patients to our specialist endodontist partners who can ensure that the treatment is successful. You can then return to our practice to finish the procedure with options such as strengthening crowns and other options.