Root canal treatment process
Root canal treatment (RCT) should be initiated as soon as possible after a tooth infection is diagnosed. Before your dentist commences RCT, your tooth will need to be x-rayed so that the anatomy of the root can be assessed. At this stage, your dentist may decide that the procedure would be best performed by a specialist endodontist.
Simple, single-rooted tooth RCT can be completed in about an hour, whilst multi-rooted teeth and more complex cases may take several dental visits to complete.
RCT is often performed under local anaesthetic on teeth, which are isolated from saliva and soft tissue by a sheet of rubber placed over the tooth called a ‘rubber dam’. Once the rubber dam is in place, your dentist will drill directly into the tooth to gain access to the root canal system in the centre. He will then look for the entrance to the root canal(s). Once all of the canals have been found, they are cleaned and shaped using various instruments. The length of the canal(s) is determined by x-rays and/or an electronic device.
The canals are then permanently filled to prevent bacteria from re-entering the canal system. A final x-ray will be taken to check that the canals have been filled completely and to the correct length.
Root-filled teeth are more likely to fracture than healthy teeth and you will usually require a crown to protect and reconstruct your tooth after the root canal treatment has been done.
After RCT, you may experience a little discomfort for a few days, but this should then disappear, leaving a tooth which feels normal, just like its neighbours.