Have you been to the dentist and been told you need a root canal treatment? This common procedure has a bad reputation for being painful, but you need not worry. Before letting anxiety get the best of you, have a read and learn the facts. This procedure is performed under local anaesthetic and will eliminate the pain experienced from an infected tooth.

Why do I need a root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment is commonly performed when an infected tooth pulp has been identified. This is typically noticed as a toothache, and can be mildly to severely painful. By looking at the anatomy of the tooth, we can understand why the treatment is needed, and what is done.

The inner central aspect of the tooth is called the pulp chamber or pulp cavity. This includes pulp tissue, blood vessels, and nerves which keep a healthy tooth alive, as well as the root canal, which extends into the bone. Infections of the pulp can occur from tooth decay or trauma, and commonly extend into the root canal. The infection and inflammation here can cause severe pain, and, if left untreated, can result in abscess formation. Root canal treatment is a procedure that removes the infected portion of the tooth and prevents re-infection.

What happens during a root canal treatment?

The initial consultation with the dentist will identify the affected tooth. Often x-rays are taken for planning purposes and to establish the extent of infection.

Local anaesthetic is injected around the affected tooth. This can take several minutes to achieve appropriate levels of anaesthesia, with the central portion taking longer to become numb than the outer portions. The dentist will not commence work until the area is adequately numb and you are comfortable. You may feel pressure, but not pain.

A dental dam is placed in your mouth. This is a thin barrier that isolates the affected tooth from the rest of your mouth while the dentist is performing the procedure.

A hole is drilled in the surface of your tooth to allow access to the infected pulp chamber and root canal.  The infected pulp is removed using specialised instruments, and the cleared canal is disinfected. It is this inflamed pulp that causes pain, and by removing it, you will be clear from pain and toothache. Remember, this is done while the tooth is numb so you will comfortable for the duration of the procedure.

After disinfection, the root canal is filled with specialised material to prevent re-infection and leave you with a healthy tooth, free of infection and pain. The tooth may feel uncomfortable for a couple of days after, but this quickly goes away, and is much more comfortable than the toothache that needed the root canal treatment in the first place!

Remember, there is no need to worry about a root canal treatment. The procedure is simple and commonly performed. Call Balmain Dentist today if you have any questions regarding the procedure, and to book in your next appointment.

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