Root canal treatment involves removal of the soft tissue nerve and blood supply from the interior of a tooth. Root canal treatments are indicated as a solution to a number of problems including:
- Long-standing extreme pain and hypersensitivity that can be localized to a single tooth
- Biting pain due to cracks present in a tooth
- Pain that does not resolve following placement of a deep filling (i.e. close to the nerve)
- Throbbing pain or biting pain due to dental abscess or infection
- A draining abscess (involving pus) originating at the root of a symptomatic or non-symptomatic tooth
- Insufficient tooth structure to retain a dental crown (the root canal treatment enables access to the root interior for placement of a retentive post)
People and popular culture often stigmatize root canal therapy as an uncomfortable procedure although this is incorrect. In fact, the completion of a root canal treatment often relieves intense pain and brings comfort to the patient. If you are experiencing anxiety in advance of your root canal treatment, please let us know as we can arrange for you to receive dental sedation during the procedure. Please refer to our “Dental Sedation” page accessible from our “Dental Services” menu.
What is involved in having a root canal treatment completed?
During your appointment, we will provide anesthesia with a surgical grade, high strength, local anesthetic. This anesthetic solution is twice as strong as the anesthetic used for dental filling procedures. The only thing the patient will notice in response to the use of this anesthetic is a stronger or more profound sense of numbness around the tooth to be treated.
Once complete numbness has been achieved, the tooth will be isolated from saliva and contaminants by use of a rubber dental dam or barrier. Access for treatment is achieved through a small hole created on the biting surface of the tooth. The soft tissue dental pulp (including nerve and blood supply networks) is then removed. This enables removal of bacteria and contaminants front the inside of the root. Antimicrobial solutions are used frequently to irrigate and sanitize the root canal system. Once thoroughly sterilized, the canals are dried and filled with a biocompatible filling material. A tooth-coloured restoration is placed over the root filling to restore the biting surface of the tooth.
Following root canal treatment, you will be advised to avoid chewing hard and brittle foods that have the potential to damage your root canal treated tooth. Root canal treatment increases brittleness and reduces fracture toughness of your tooth. For this reason, a post-operative crown is recommended to minimize the risk of future tooth fracture. Dr. Hornby typically follows up following root canal treatment to ensure full healing prior and suitability for placement of a dental crown.
If you have been taking an antibiotic to minimize the risk of a dental abscess becoming a systemic infection, you will be advised to finish the full course of your medication.