Root Canal

 A tooth will need root canal treatment if it has become infected by caries and infection or if the tooth has a fracture or is damaged by trauma.

Why should we save a tooth?

rct-3A real tooth will generally function better than any artificial tooth can, and natural teeth are generally stronger and more efficient at biting and chewing. Also natural teeth are easier to clean and maintain than an artificial tooth. If a natural tooth is lost we lose some of our ability to chew and eat efficiently.  Also the adjacent teeth may tilt into the space left by the missing tooth, which can make eating more difficult.

How successful is root canal treatment?

A root canal treated tooth can survive for many years, even for the rest of your life if it is well maintained and regular visits are made to your dentist.

The sooner you commence root canal treatment if your tooth has become infected or damaged by trauma the greater the successful outcome will be.

If treatment is not undertaken quickly, severe pain and abscesses can occur.  If an abscess is not treated it can lead to the loss of bone surrounding the tooth, and the tooth may have to be removed as it will be untreatable.

So what is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a process whereby inflamed or dead pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth, enabling a tooth that was causing pain to be retained.

rct-diagramOur front teeth generally have one and sometimes two root canals. Premolars usually have one or two root canals, while our molar teeth generally three to four canals.


Is root canal treatment painful?

With the invention of modern anaesthetics and if treatment is undertaken before abscess formation, there should be no pain associated with root canal treatment.

It may be necessary to have a course of antibiotics before treatment can be undertaken without pain.

How is root canal treatment done?

rootcanalAccess is gained through an access cavity in the top of the tooth and then special files are used to remove the inflamed or infected pulp.                                                                 

After removing the pulp, the root canals are cleaned, sterilized and shaped to a form that can be completely sealed with a filling material to prevent further infection. The number of appointments needed for treatment varies, depending on the complexity of the tooth and its problem, but 2 visits is normal.

Subsequently a crown or complex restoration to restore or protect the tooth may necessary as a tooth after undergoing treatment, may be more likely to fracture. This is more common for a molar tooth and that is why a crown is usually recommended.

Please note: all invasive or surgical procedures carry risk.  Please discuss the benefits and risks of procedures with your dentist before proceeding with treatment. If you have any further questions about root canal treatment please ask one of the friendly Dentists in the Oral Experts Group.  

For further information please visit the Australian Dental Association Website,

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