root canal

Root canal treatment, known as endodontic therapy in dental parlance, is a significant procedure in dental care, designed to salvage teeth that are severely compromised due to decay, infection, or trauma. This article draws from authoritative Australian resources, providing you with a detailed overview of the procedure, its indications, methodology, and aftercare, with particular insights from the Australian Dental Association.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is an intricate process undertaken to repair and preserve a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected​1​. It involves removing the damaged or infected pulp from inside the tooth, a region housing the tooth’s nerve and blood vessels, which is essential for its growth and development​2​. This dental pulp can survive damage from decay, trauma, or a crack in the tooth​3​.

Why Might One Need a Root Canal?

The pulp can become inflamed or infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth​1​. Sports injuries, car accidents, or even falls can result in severe injury to a tooth, necessitating root canal therapy​3​. Symptoms indicating the need for a root canal include persistent pain, sensitivity to hot or cold, tenderness to touch or chewing, and discoloration of the tooth​3​.

The Root Canal Procedure

The typical root canal treatment involves several steps:

  • Local Anesthetic: To ensure a pain-free experience, a local anesthetic is administered​4​.
  • Tooth Isolation: A rubber dam is placed around the tooth to isolate it and keep it clean and dry during the procedure​3​.
  • Pulp Removal: The damaged or infected pulp is removed using specialized instruments​3​.
  • Disinfection: The empty canal is disinfected to eliminate any remaining bacteria​5​.
  • Filling: The canal is filled with a biocompatible material, usually gutta-percha, to replace the removed pulp​3​.
  • Sealing: The opening of the tooth is sealed with a temporary or permanent filling to prevent new infection​3​.

A root canal treatment may require one or multiple visits to the dentist or endodontist, a specialist in this type of treatment​3​.

Post-Treatment Care

After a root canal, teeth are often restored with a filling or crown to protect them and restore functionality​3​. Molar teeth that endure significant pressure from chewing, in particular, may require a crown to prevent the tooth from fracturing post-treatment​3​.

The Importance of Crowning After Root Canal

Research has shown that a tooth treated with a root canal has a better chance of longevity if it’s protected with a crown afterwards. Without a crown, these teeth are more susceptible to fractures and have a significantly higher chance of being extracted in the years following treatment​3​.

Alternatives to Root Canal

The only alternative to a root canal is tooth extraction. However, this leads to the need for additional treatments to replace the missing tooth, which can be more costly and complex​3​.

Finding an Expert

For those seeking more information or requiring a root canal treatment, consulting with a dentist is advisable. In Australia, one can locate an ADA registered dentist, ensuring quality and expertise in dental care​3​.

Root canal treatment is a vital dental procedure aimed at saving teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted. With advancements in dental technology and anesthesia, it is a manageable procedure with a high success rate, offering patients relief from pain and the ability to retain their natural teeth. For personalized advice and treatment, it is recommended to consult with a dental professional who can tailor the treatment to your specific needs.


At Dentists In Annerley, QLD, Australia, we pride ourselves on setting the highest standard of patient care, ensuring an experience that fuses comfort with unmatched dental health services. Our clinic acts as an oasis for advanced periodontal treatments, performed with precision and a delicate touch to guarantee the best oral health outcomes for our patients. Centrally located for Annerley residents and those from surrounding suburbs, we invite individuals from Woolloongabba, Greenslopes, Fairfield, Yeronga, Moorooka, Tarragindi, Holland Park, West End, Highgate Hill, Dutton Park, Coorparoo, Carina Heights, Mount Gravatt, East Brisbane, and Stones Corner to partake in exceptional dental care. Our dedication to oral health is solid, with a personalized approach to periodontal care that is aimed at enhancing both the resilience and aesthetics of our patients’ smiles.

In the bustling environment of Annerley and its nearby areas, Dentists In Annerley emerges as a haven of dental health and well-being. We address a broad range of dental needs, from routine examinations and cleanings to emergency dental treatments, all the while utilizing modern CEREC technology for immediate ceramic restorations. Our broad suite of services spans root canal therapies, wisdom tooth extractions, and the creation of tailored veneers, crowns, and implants, in addition to specializing in periodontics, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontic aligners. Our facility is equipped with contemporary X-ray machinery, ensuring an expedient and accurate diagnostic and treatment journey. We have meticulously designed every aspect of our practice to optimize the efficiency, thoroughness, and comfort of your visit.

The guiding principle at Dentists In Annerley is the belief that exemplary dental care should be within reach for everyone. We are committed to offering a comprehensive variety of dental services that cater to the varied dental concerns of our patients. From preventive maintenance to the craftsmanship of cosmetic dentistry, and the detailed care required for complex dental treatments, our team at Dentists In Annerley is steadfast in their quest for dental excellence. This dedication is apparent in our gentle demeanor and the detailed attention we apply in each treatment, ensuring every patient leaves with a smile that is as radiant in appearance as it is in health.

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Frequently Ask Questions

Root canal treatment, or endodontic therapy, is a dental procedure that aims to save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. The process involves removing the infected or inflamed pulp from inside   the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the affected area, and then filling and sealing it with a material called gutta-percha. The final step often includes restoring the tooth with a crown or filling for protection and to restore it to full function​.

When the tooth’s pulp, containing nerves and blood vessels, becomes infected or damaged, it can lead to pain, abscess, and even more serious health complications if left untreated. Root canal treatment is necessary to remove the infection, relieve pain, and prevent the spread of infection to other areas of the mouth or body​

The pulp can become damaged due to deep tooth decay, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face. These issues can allow bacteria to enter the pulp and cause infection​

Signs that you may need a root canal include severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure, prolonged sensitivity or pain to hot or cold temperatures, discoloration of the tooth, swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums, and a persistent or recurring pimple on the gums​

Yes, a tooth can continue to function without its dental pulp once it has fully matured. The tooth is nourished by the tissues surrounding it, even after the pulp has been removed​

Modern techniques and anesthetics have made root canal treatments relatively comfortable procedures. Most patients report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed. Discomfort after the treatment can vary, but many patients do not experience significant pain and any discomfort typically can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications

Symptoms that may indicate the need for a root canal include severe toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold, tooth discoloration, swollen and tender gums, or a recurring pimple on the gums. Sometimes, there may be no symptoms, and a dentist or endodontist may determine a root canal is needed through routine examinations or X-rays​

The procedure typically includes the administration of local anesthesia, placement of a rubber dam to keep the tooth dry and protected, removal of the infected pulp, cleaning and disinfecting the inner tooth, filling the tooth with gutta-percha, and sealing the tooth with a filling or crown​

Root canal treatments can be performed by general dentists or by specialists known as endodontists. Endodontists have additional training and specialize in treating tooth pain and performing root canal treatment and other procedures involving the interior of the tooth​

Whether a crown is necessary after a root canal depends on the location of the tooth and the amount of natural tooth structure remaining. Teeth that endure significant chewing forces, like molars, often require a crown to protect and strengthen the tooth after the procedure. Crowns help to prevent the treated teeth from breaking and can improve the longevity of the tooth​

The duration of a root canal procedure can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the specific tooth affected. A straightforward root canal often can be completed in one visit, which may last from 30 minutes to an hour. However, more complex cases may require two or more visits to the dentist or endodontist to fully clean, shape, fill, and seal the tooth

  • Many people are able to return to work immediately after a root canal treatment. However, it may depend on the complexity of the procedure and the individual’s response to the treatment. It’s common to experience some mild discomfort or swelling, which could potentially interfere with some activities. Consulting with your dentist regarding post-procedure care and any necessary adjustments to your schedule is advisable​2​.
  • Root canal treatments are known to be highly successful, with success rates reaching up to 95% in many cases. The procedure has a high rate of saving teeth that would otherwise require extraction, allowing them to last as long as natural, untreated teeth. However, success can be dependent on factors such as the extent of the infection/damage and the tooth’s structural integrity​1​.
  • As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks or complications with root canal treatment. These may include procedural complications such as instrument breakage, perforation of the tooth, or failure to remove all of the infected tissue. Post-treatment complications can include infection, pain, or a tooth fracture. These risks are relatively low and can often be managed effectively if they arise​1​.
  • After a root canal, it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully. This often includes avoiding chewing on the affected tooth until it’s fully restored with a permanent filling or crown, practicing good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, and attending any follow-up appointments as recommended. This care helps to ensure the longevity of the treated tooth and prevent reinfection​2​.
  • Gutta-percha is a rubber-like material derived from the sap of certain tropical trees. It is biocompatible, meaning it’s safe to be used inside the body, and has properties that make it an excellent material for filling the empty space in a tooth after the pulp has been removed. It’s used in root canals because it seals off the canal from bacterial invasion and supports the remaining tooth structure​1​.

The rubber dam is used to isolate the tooth being treated from the rest of the mouth. This prevents saliva, which contains bacteria, from entering the treatment area, which could contaminate the sterile field needed for the root canal. It also helps to protect the patient by preventing the ingestion or inhalation of small instruments or disinfectant liquids used during the procedure​1​.

  • Most teeth can undergo root canal treatment if needed. However, the anatomy of some teeth can make treatment challenging. Teeth with severely curved roots, limited access, or extensive structural damage may not be suitable for root canal treatment, and alternative treatments may be considered​3​.
  • If a root canal is recommended and not performed, the tooth will continue to decay and the infection may spread, potentially leading to an abscess, more severe pain, and even bone loss in the jaw. Ultimately, the tooth may need to be extracted, and the infection can impact overall health​1​.
  • Advances in dental technology have significantly improved the effectiveness and comfort of root canal treatments. Digital X-rays provide detailed images of the tooth’s anatomy, allowing for more precise treatment. Rotary instrumentation makes the procedure faster and more comfortable for the patient. Additionally, modern disinfection techniques have improved the chances of removing all of the bacteria from the root canal system, thus increasing the success rates of the treatment​3​​1​.
  • The primary alternative to a root canal is the extraction of the affected tooth. However, removing a tooth can lead to other issues, such as misalignment of the remaining teeth, difficulty chewing, and loss of jawbone density. If a tooth is extracted, it is often recommended to replace it with a dental implant, bridge, or partial denture to avoid these complications. Your dentist will advise you on the best course of action based on your specific condition​1​.
  • During recovery, it’s normal to experience some tenderness or discomfort in the area for a few days after the treatment. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. It’s important to avoid chewing on the treated tooth until it has been fully restored with a permanent filling or crown to prevent damage. Good oral hygiene and avoiding hard or sticky foods can aid in a smooth recovery​2​.
  • The cost of a root canal treatment in Australia can vary widely depending on several factors, including the severity of the problem, the tooth affected, and the dentist or endodontist performing the procedure. Additional costs may be incurred if a crown is needed after the treatment. It’s best to consult with your dental care provider for a detailed quote​1​.
  • Many dental insurance plans in Australia offer some level of coverage for root canal treatment. However, the extent of coverage can vary depending on the policy. Patients should check with their insurance provider to understand their coverage details and any out-of-pocket expenses they may incur​1​.
  • Yes, a tooth with a root canal can still get cavities. The external structure of the tooth remains susceptible to decay and gum disease. It’s important to maintain good dental hygiene and regular check-ups to protect the tooth from further decay and to ensure the longevity of the root canal treatment​1​.
  • A tooth that has undergone a root canal treatment can last a lifetime with proper care. However, the longevity of the tooth also depends on oral hygiene practices, the presence of a proper restoration like a crown, and regular dental check-ups to detect any potential issues early​1​.

After a root canal, you should avoid eating until the numbness in your mouth wears off to prevent biting your cheek or tongue. Once the numbness is gone, you can eat soft foods, but you should avoid chewing on the side of the treated tooth until it has been fully restored. Gradually reintroduce harder foods as comfort allows​2​.

  • Immediately following the procedure, it’s advisable to avoid hard, chewy, or sticky foods that might dislodge the temporary filling or irritate the affected tooth. As the tooth heals and is fully restored with a permanent filling or crown, normal dietary habits can typically be resumed​2​.
  • You can locate an ADA (Australian Dental Association) registered dentist by visiting the ADA website and using their ‘Find a Dentist’ service. This ensures that you receive care from a provider who adheres to the high standards of practice as set by the ADA​1​.
  • Some discomfort after a root canal treatment is normal. However, if you experience significant pain, swelling that worsens over time, an allergic reaction to medication, or your bite feels uneven, you should contact your dentist immediately. They will be able to assess your situation and provide the necessary interventions to alleviate your discomfort​2​.

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