What to Expect When Getting Root Canal Treatment
Whether you book a consultation with Truly Dental Clinic because you are concerned about new sensitivity or tenderness of any of your teeth, sudden pain or a persistent toothache, or if your appointment is for a routine dental check-up – your dentist will carry out a comprehensive dental exam to detect the presence of any infection or inflammation, deep decay, problematic cavities, or other signs that the root of one of your teeth may already be infected by harmful bacteria.
If you are experiencing pain in a tooth, or there are signs of severe decay and inflammation, your dentist will first take a dental X-ray to assess the structures of your tooth and to confirm the presence of infection at the root. In some cases, our high-tech CT scanner is required to get a better visualisation of your tooth in full 3D prior to beginning treatment. Your dentist will then make an assessment of your tooth and the best recommendation for your treatment, and will be able to provide you with a detailed treatment plan, including a breakdown of the full estimated time until completion, options for the restoration of your tooth following the root canal treatment, and the costs of the treatment and restorations following.
We will proceed with scheduling the first stage of your Root Canal Treatment only once you have been able to discuss your treatment plan with your dentist, and have had all of your questions or concerns addressed. In some situations this can be arranged for the same day as your initial consultation if necessary and dependent on availability.
Using a highly effective local anaesthetic your dentist will numb your mouth so that you do not feel any pain throughout the procedure. This first stage of your root canal treatment involves a small hole being made into the top of the affected tooth, for your dentist to gain access to the infection in your nerve.
Then, the infected nerve and pulp is carefully and meticulously removed and the inner structure of the tooth shaped in an intricate procedure using specialised dental files. This is followed by a disinfecting agent to wash away any remaining pulp and sterilise the site. We use the most modern and innovative dental equipment to ensure you get the most out of your treatment, and the accuracy of your Root Canal Treatment is ensured by your dentist’s use of an operatory microscope throughout this stage. This highly technical initial stage may take some time, as your dentist ensures your tooth is completely cleaned and all infection has been removed, encouraging your tooth’s natural healing process to begin straight away. In limited rare cases, the infected tip of the root itself needs to be removed surgically, in a procedure known as an apicectomy.
Once your tooth has been completely cleaned, sterilised, and dried, the root is filled in with a rubber-like material. This acts as a replacement for the pulp and seals off the inner tooth structure to prevent reinfection of the root.
Your dentist at this stage will usually fill a semi-permanent restoration in place, to protect the interior while it heals and to maintain the appearance of your overall smile, while your tooth is healing and prior to having your long-term dental crown fitted.
In some situations, both the initial and final phases of your treatment can be completed in a single visit, depending on the size of the affected tooth and the degree of infection. Larger molar or back teeth usually take more time to completely clean, and will generally always require two visits to fully remove the pulp and disinfect.
If your dentist schedules you to return to the clinic to continue your treatment following the first stage, it is essential to return for this second appointment to complete your full root canal. Following the first stage, your infected root pulp will have been removed which will in the vast majority of cases have already relieved any pain you were experiencing. It is still vital to return for this final visit, as without completing the second stage of your treatment you risk reinfection of your tooth, jeopardising its long-term health and the overall condition of your mouth, particularly in the neighbouring teeth.
Restoring your Root Canal Treated Tooth
Root Canal Treatment involves drilling into the tooth and removing the infected and damaged nerve tissue within it, this leaves the remaining outer tooth structure much weaker than before. In order to reinforce your tooth and prevent the risk of catastrophic fracture or failure, - which can ultimately result in the loss of the tooth - your dentist will assess your case both during your initial consultation and taking your finished root canal results into account, and will recommend the restoration option best suited to your situation.
Restoration of your root canal-treated tooth can range from a regular cavity-Filling material being used for small to moderate cavities involving limited damage to the nerve, to more severe cases involving broad infection of the nerve and the removal of a significant amount of pulp and interior tooth structure, which often necessitate the more robust restorative solutions of a Dental Crown or Onlay.
It is typically more common following Root Canal Treatment of the back teeth for restoration with a Crown to be recommended, due to the tremendous forces your back teeth are subjected to when eating which they must be able to withstand. In certain cases where the tooth is quite badly broken down by decay, and there is not enough natural structure remaining to successfully bond a crown to the tooth, your dentist will first need to place a small ‘post’ into the root, around which an artificial tooth structure can be built up, in a simple procedure known as Post and Core.
While a conventional white Filling may suffice for only mildly damaged teeth, including in some cases the front teeth which are less intensely involved in biting functions, root canal-treated teeth are also prone to discolouration. This is due to the removal of the dead blood vessels and nerves within the root, which can cause the root itself to turn a dark brown colour, which can frequently stain the exterior of the tooth. For this reason, your dentist may recommend further restoration of a prominently positioned or front tooth following completion of your root canal treatment, either similarly with a Dental Crown, or if more appropriate to your case a Veneer or even undergoing a Tooth Whitening treatment.
At your initial consultation, your dentist will discuss in detail all of the above restoration options post-Root Canal Treatment, to ensure that you are able to make a fully informed decision regarding your treatment and that you receive the best fit for your lifestyle, your budget, and your oral health and welfare now and into the future.