What do you think of when you hear the term “root canal”?

I bet that whatever came to mind, it wasn’t a happy thought.

Yeah, root canals can be painful, but it’s mostly the infection that sucks, not the treatment.

So to clear up a bit of confusion and provide some clarity on the procedure, here’s some info on what’s involved in a root canal treatment.

What is root canal treatment?

Root Canal treatment is needed when the nerve or blood supply to the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected due to decay or injury. You may not feel any pain in the early stages but just notice that the tooth is darker.

Why is root canal treatment needed?

If the pulp becomes infected the infection can spread through the root canal system. This can lead to an abscess. Symptoms of an abscess can range from a dull ache to a severe pain – which is usually when patients call and book appointments with their dentist. At this point, if the root canal is not carried out you may lose the tooth.

Does it root canal treatment hurt?

With a good local anesthetic it should feel no different than having a filling done. Sometimes it is tender afterwards, but this shouldn’t last long. If pain continues more than a day after the procedure, call your dentist and let them know.

What does it involve?

The aim is to remove all the infection and to clean the root to prevent further infection. It is a time consuming procedure. To start with, the infected pulp is removed and then any abscesses are drained. The root canal is then cleaned, shaped, and filled.

What if I don’t have the treatment?

The alternative is to have the tooth removed. Although some people might prefer this, it is better to keep as many of your teeth as possible.

What will my tooth look like afterwards?

Sometimes the tooth darkens, however the biggest problem is that the tooth can become weaker - this means a crown will be needed (which we will talk about in our next blog) to provide extra support and strength.

Will the tooth be safe afterwards?

Yes, although as we said it might be more brittle and need support with a crown.

If you’re experiencing any aches or pains in your jaw or teeth, or if you think you notice one of your teeth appears to be darker than the others, give us a call – it’s always best to have it checked and treated as early as possible.

Dental websites and patient education videos by Optio Publishing