What is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is also known as endodontic therapy and it involves the removal of infection from the pulp of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels lie. Such infections can be very painful conditions that can also cause acute swelling on the side of the gum. Long-term infection in the tooth can result in it spreading to the end of the roots and in very severe cases, to other parts of the face.

Root canal treatment serves to allow a previously infected tooth to heal and remain in the mouth instead of being extracted. Keeping the tooth in the mouth allows maintenance of normal function.


What kind of teeth would need a Root Canal Treatment?

Teeth with signs of irreversible pulpal infection will display symptoms such as prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold foods, pain on biting, spontaneous pain and swelling on the gums near the roots of the tooth. The dentist will have to assess the tooth during the clinical visit to check the history of pain with regard to the tooth and the suitability for a root canal treatment procedure.

Note: an elective root canal treatment can also be done in cases where there is insufficient tooth structure for a crown.


How is the procedure carried out?

We will first inform the patient of the pros and cons of the procedure and offer other treatment options if they are suitable for the case. After informed consent is taken, a radiograph (or x-ray) will be taken to fully assess the tooth and the tooth will be thoroughly checked.

Adequate local anaesthesia will be given to the tooth and the surrounding area for comfort during the procedure. The root canal site is then kept clean and dry with a rubber sheet which surrounds the tooth. Infected material in the centre of the tooth is removed and the root canals of the tooth are shaped to provide an ideal space for the filling.

A filling material called gutta-percha is subsequently used to fill the clean and empty canals and restoration such as a filling or a crown are placed on top of it.

Certain teeth may require a post-and-core to retain the structure on top, and your dentist will advise you about whether there is a need for it before or during the treatment.

The entire process will take 2 visits or more so that it can be assessed and reviewed at each stage to ensure there is an optimum outcome for the tooth.