What are the signs and symptoms that I need root canal treatment?

Common symptoms you may experience if you need a root canal may include:

  • Spontaneous tooth pain, even when you are not eating or drinking
  • Tooth pain that interrupts your sleep
  • Toothache that worsens when pressure is applied or when eating
  • Darkening or discolouration of a tooth
  • Recurring swelling of the gums
  • Tenderness in the gums
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold or heat

If you are unsure about any symptoms you are experiencing, get in touch with the team, at Dr Daniel Tan & Associates, for a consultation and evaluation.

What is a root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment is a dental procedure involving removing the tooth's soft centre, called the pulp. The pulp comprises nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels that help the tooth grow. The tooth's crown (the part you can see above your gums) can remain intact even if the pulp within is dead. Removing injured or infected pulp is the best way to preserve the tooth's structure. Your dentist will perform root canal treatments under local anaesthesia.

What can I expect during root canal treatment?

Step 1: Local Anaesthetic

The dentist will place a small amount of numbing medication on your gum near the affected tooth. Once it has taken effect, a local anaesthetic will be injected into your gums. You may feel a light pinch, but this will pass quickly. You will remain awake during the procedure, and the anaesthetic keeps you from feeling pain.

Step 2: Removing the pulp

When your tooth is numb, your dentist will make a small opening in the top of the tooth. Once the infected or damaged pulp is exposed, the specialist will carefully remove it using special tools called files. They will clean out all the pathways (canals) in your tooth.

Step 3: Antibiotics

Once the pulp has been removed, the dentist may coat the area with a topical antibiotic to ensure that the infection is gone and to prevent reinfection. Once the canals are cleaned and disinfected, the dentist will fill the tooth with a sealer paste and rubber-like material called gutta-percha. They also may prescribe you oral antibiotics.

Step 4: Temporary filling

The dentist will end the procedure by filling the small opening in the top of the tooth with a soft, temporary material. This sealant helps prevent the canals from being damaged by saliva.

Is root canal treatment painful?

A root canal is a major procedure, and some pain and discomfort following treatment are expected. Some patients feel light pressure during cleaning, but you shouldn't be in pain during the procedure.

Like any procedure, as the local anaesthetic wears off, you may experience mild discomfort and sensitivity in the area. As the pain experienced after a root canal treatment is usually mild, most patients can manage discomfort during recovery with over-the-counter medication.

Will there be any follow-up appointments?

You will see your dentist within a few days of the root canal treatment. They will take x-rays to make sure that any infection is gone. They will also replace the temporary filling with a permanent filling to protect your tooth.

You should be able to resume your regular routine the day after the procedure. Avoid chewing with the damaged tooth until it is permanently filled or a crown is placed over the top.

How long do the results of root canal therapy last?

A root canal is considered a restorative procedure. Most people who undergo the procedure enjoy positive results for the rest of their lives. However, your long-term results depend on how well you care for your teeth. Just as the rest of your teeth depend on good oral hygiene habits, your restored tooth requires regular brushing and flossing.