Information – Root Canal Treatment

Each tooth has a space within it known as the Root Canal.  This space contains blood vessels and nerve tissues that supply the tooth with feeling and nutrients. The Root Canal is protected by healthy Enamel and Dentine.

Treatment of the Root Canal is needed if this tissue becomes infected or has severe swelling. The procedure involves cleaning out and filling that space to prevent bacteria from re-infecting the tooth.

Root canal treatment allows the option to save a tooth so that it remains in place instead of being removed.

Root canal treatment helps to eliminate pain and infection from your tooth and allow the area to remain healthy. When the inside of a tooth has become infected from bacteria or severely swollen from trauma, a root canal treatment is the only way to repair the tooth to health.

Decay causing Root Canal Infection, with abcess under tooth

The Procedure

Root canals must be carefully shaped, cleaned and filled to ensure the tooth remains free from re-infection. This is achieved by using: • Small files to widen and shape the root canals • A disinfecting solution to clean the root canals • A material called Gutta Percha to fill the root canals • An antibacterial sealer to prevent bacteria from re-infecting the root canal.

A temporary filling may be placed over a root canal treatment while the tooth is settling down and the area around the root is healing. The temporary must be replaced with a permanent restoration as soon as possible to prevent it from wearing down and allowing bacteria in your mouth to infect the new root canal filling.

Completed Root Canal Filling with Crown on tooth

After the procedure, Check-ups are important to ensure the tooth health is monitored and that continued treatment is provided if necessary.

The Cost

We will give you an outline of the estimated cost of your Root Canal Treatment.  Throughout the Root Canal Treatment, we may need to alter the extent of the treatment, dependent on the biological response of the tooth, and until such time the estimate of the cost is an estimate only.  Following your Root Canal Treatment there may be other relevant costs dependent on the outcome such as future re-treatment, referral to a Root Canal Specialist (at additional expense), cost of further treatment including review, and Filling or Crowning over the top of the tooth.

Often, a tooth will need a Crown after having a Root Canal Treatment.  The cost of a crown should be considered before commencing the Root Canal Treatment.

Alternative Treatments

The only alternative to a root canal treatment is to extract the tooth. If the nerve of a tooth is irreversibly damaged or dead, the body cannot heal the tooth. While symptoms may initially resolve, the infection will always be present. This lingering, chronic infection can lead to future pain and swelling. It can also spread to other teeth and other parts of the body. Pain will always recur until definitive treatment with Root Canal Treatment or Extraction.

Abnormal Outcomes and Risks

As with any dental treatment, some inherent risks exist in having a root canal treatment. Up to 10% of root canal treated teeth may experience continued pain and infection from the following:
• Nerve tissue remaining in the canal space
• Gutta Percha and sealer failing to completely fill the canal space
• An existing root fracture that was undetectable when the root canal treatment was done; in this case, the tooth will not become comfortable and must be extracted
• A persistent infection which needs further surgical intervention
• Other complications of the root canal treatment such as broken files, calcified canals.

A root canal treated tooth is at a significantly higher risk of fracturing than the same tooth without a root canal treatment. A crown or onlay that covers the cusps of the tooth will decrease the likelihood that the tooth will break and is highly recommended after the root canal treatment is done.

The success of a Root Canal Treatment is heavily dependent on the filling/crown sealing the tooth and providing protection.

In treating the Root Canal of a Tooth we are treating a bacterial infection with tissue inflammation.  There are no guarantees that treatment will be successful, nor that it will later need further root canal treatment even if it was at first successful.

Referral Offered

Our practice is committed to providing the best dental care.  Sometimes after assessing a tooth or the mouth, we find complexities or treatment difficulties that will need to be assessed and treated by Referral to a Dental Specialist.  Upon referral, your Dental Specialist will provide you with independent financial cost estimates and invoices for treatment.

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