What is a root canal?

The dental pulp is found in the centre of each tooth, and consists of blood vessels and nerves. The function of the dental pulp is to maintain the dentin (inner layer of the tooth) and to provide the tooth with sensation. The pulp allows us to feel pressure, temperature and pain, which is important to protect us from damaging our own teeth. The root canal is the area of the tooth where the pulp resides. Depending on the tooth, there may be one to four or more canals present in a single tooth.

Why would you need a root canal therapy (RCT)?

The two most common reasons patients need to receive RCT is due to decay or trauma. When decay progresses through the outer and inner layers (enamel and dentin) of the tooth and into the pulp, the dentist is no longer able to restore your tooth with fillings or crowns. Once bacteria is into the pulp, it causes permanent damage to the tooth, and results in infection. If left untreated, a dental abscess can form.

Trauma to the tooth can cause irreversible damage to the nerve resulting in pulp necrosis (death). Trauma can result from the tooth being hit, broken or even long-term heavy biting (clenching/grinding).

A toothache could be an indication you may need a RCT, contact your dentist and we can help you properly diagnose and treat your pain.

What is involved in a root canal therapy (RCT)?

Under local anesthetic, the dentist prepares an opening in the tooth to remove the pulp tissue and bacteria from the root canal(s). The canals are cleaned and filled with a special material named gutta percha.

What to expect after a root canal therapy (RCT)?

Discomfort may be experienced after a RCT, the dentist will prescribe pain-killers as needed. The tooth may require some time to heal from infection. Sometimes, antibiotics may be also prescribed with more aggressive infections. Following RCT, you will often need a dental crown to preserve and protect the tooth.  It is very important for the vast majority of root canaled teeth to have a crown as the final restoration.  These teeth are very fragile after being hollowed out from the RCT.  The crown reduces the risk of fractures in the tooth that can lead to failure and the need for extraction of the tooth.