Root canal treatment is a dental procedure to remove infected or damaged tissue (AKA pulp) from inside the tooth. A small hole is drilled in the tooth for the pulp to be removed and the canal chamber to be cleaned. The tooth is then filled and sealed to prevent reinfection and further damage.
Depending on the location of the tooth, your dentist may recommend a crown. After root canal treatment the tooth may weaken. Placing a dental crown (a hard covering that looks like a natural tooth) over the tooth offers added protection and allows you to eat hard foods. Crowns are commonly used following root canal treatment on the back teeth, as these take more pressure than front teeth.
The major benefit of root canal treatment is that it can repair and save a damaged or decayed tooth, rather than removing it—which can lead to costly dental work later on.
Root canal treatment can be effective in the following instances:
Persistent tooth pain is one of the biggest signs that you may need root canal treatment. Other symptoms include:
Despite the rumours, discomfort is minimal. You’ll actually feel less pain after root canal treatment than before. Plus, you’ve got the peace of mind that you’ve fixed your dental problem.
During the root canal procedure, anaesthesia is used to numb the area around the tooth, so you won’t feel anything during the treatment. Afterwards, there may be some mild post-procedural discomfort. This can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.
Following your root canal procedure there may be some mild swelling and discomfort. You may also experience tenderness around the tooth. It’s best to avoid eating hard or sticky foods, as well as hot or cold foods and drinks for a day or two—just until the swelling and tenderness subsides.
Follow your dentist’s postoperative instructions. This may include swishing salt water around the mouth a couple of times a day to prevent infection. And don’t forget to practice good oral care by brushing and flossing regularly.