Root Canal Treatment Brisbane

Root canal treatment (RCT) is a dental procedure designed to save your tooth, resolve pain and clean your root canals of any infected or damaged tissue.

A benefit of root canal treatment is that it allows your dentist to attempt to preserve your natural tooth, and presents an alternative treatment path to extracting the tooth entirely. Successful root canal treatment allows your dentist to save more of your natural tooth structure.

Root canal problems are often diagnosed due to extreme discomfort and pain, but in some cases, the tooth may die and become infected without any painful symptoms. Your dentist can help you understand what is happening underneath the gums of your teeth, and assess if root canal treatment is necessary.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

An overview of root canal treatment is provided below, and the picture is described from left to right –

  • The infected tooth ,
  • is opened to access the dental pulp.
  • Cleaning and shaping is performed
  • before sealing.

Root Canal is Brisbane - A diagram showing the steps taken during root canal treatment.

“The root canal is accessed through the top of the tooth, and this allows us to remove any inflamed and infected tissue. Often an antiseptic dressing is placed inside the tooth and this will help resolve any pain,” Dr Robinson says.

“At subsequent appointment(s) the root canals are shaped, filled and sealed, and this will provide a protective barrier to stop further infection and inflammation.”

Alternatively, some patients may opt for extraction of the tooth. These extracted teeth can be replaced by dental implants or dental prosthesis such as bridges or dentures. However, the main advantage of root canal treatment is being able to keep your natural tooth, and surrounding gum and bone.

What Happens at a Root Canal Appointment?

Before any treatment, your dentist will need to establish the history of your dental pain and symptoms, perform a thorough examination of the problem tooth and confirm a diagnosis.

To accomplish this, your dental x-rays are updated, and a Cone Beam CT may be used to visualise the area in 3D. An x-ray of a sealed and treated tooth can be seen below, Dr Robinson explaining,

“The initial x-ray (left) shows a tooth, with an existing crown, that is in need of root canal treatment, and the dark area around the end of the root indicates inflammation and loss of bone due to the infection. Cleaning, shaping and sealing the root canals has resulted in signs of healing on the second x-ray (right), and the dark area is resolving.”

Before After Root Canal Xray

This sequence of treatments can be spread over multiple appointments to help guarantee the best possible treatment outcome, and this should be decided on an individual basis.

“If the root canal is simple and the tooth doesn’t have established infection, then a root canal can be completed in a single visit,” Dr Robinson says. “Where the canals are more complex or there is a significant infection, it will take two or occasionally three appointments to complete the root canal procedure.”

If multiple appointments are needed, then a pain-relieving medical paste and a temporary filling is placed in the tooth in between appointments. Antibiotics can also be prescribed by your dentist if you have an established infection.

Depending on the location of the tooth, and its structural integrity, it may be restored with a filling, crown or bonded porcelain restoration.

Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?

Many people fear that root canal treatment is painful. However, one of the main objectives of treatment is to resolve dental pain as quickly and effectively as possible.

Care is taken throughout the process to maintain comfort, such as the use of local anesthetic and ‘in the vast majority of cases there is no pain during your root canal procedure’ says Dr Robinson.

Symptoms of Root Canal Infection

Dr Stephen Robinson

Pain that is preventing sleep or waking you at night, is often due to irreversible pulpitis – any toothache or symptoms that interfere with your sleep should be taken seriously and examined as soon as possible.

If you experience any of the following symptoms you should see a dentist as soon as possible –

Severe or Spontaneous Dental Pain

Severe dental pain should be investigated by your dentist, particularly any pain that keeps you awake. Dr Robinson explaining,

“Pain that is preventing sleep or waking you at night, is often due to irreversible pulpitis – any symptoms that interfere with your sleep should be taken seriously and examined as soon as possible.”

Prolonged or Severe Dental Sensitivity

Sensitivity to hot or cold is a relatively common dental issue, but severe sensitivity over an extended period of time can be a serious issue that needs examination. If sensitivity

  • Does not recede with your standard treatments, such as a desensitizing toothpaste
  • Increases in severity and duration, particularly under hot or cold stimulus

this may indicate irreversible pulpitis, and a need for root canal treatment.

Discolouration of a single tooth

If you notice a change in colour to a single tooth, particularly if located in the area of sensitivity, pain or swelling – then the nerve of the tooth may be dead.

“Teeth may become discolored after trauma. Root canal treatment and internal bleaching can restore the health and appearance of the tooth.”

A Recurring Pimple or Boil on the Gums or Gumline

Gum boils or pimples, particularly next to your teeth, are a tell-tale sign that the root canal is deeply infected.

“A small swelling with intermittent flare ups or discharge is usually a sign of draining pus from an infected tooth,” says Dr Robinson.

Resolving Toothache with Endodontic Treatment

Are you feeling severe dental pain or discomfort? It could be irreversible pulpitis.

Most of us will never see the inside of a tooth, so it can be surprising to learn that it is filled with soft tissue called the dental pulp. Your dental pulp is a collection of blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue and cells, and it facilitates many of your tooth’s biological functions, such as the formation of dentine, and acts as an early detection system for dental decay.

Preventing and treating diseases of the dental pulp is commonly referred to as endodontics.

Inflammation of the dental pulp is known as pulpitis and often displays itself in the form of a toothache. Luckily, the early stages of pulpitis are reversible. For example, if a decayed tooth is given a dental filling then it may recover without the need for further treatment, and the toothache will resolve.

However, without an appropriate dental restoration and care, any of these cracks in your teeth, or areas of deep decay, will allow bacteria to penetrate deeper into the tooth. This can irritate the pulp and irreversible pulpitis may develop – a much more painful and serious condition.

“Pain of increasing severity or duration, particularly with a hot or cold stimulus, can be an indication of irreversible pulpitis. Failure to treat this may result in a dental abscess or occasionally a more severe infection”, explains Dr Robinson.

Irreversible pulpitis often leads to severe toothache and prolonged pain and discomfort. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see or attend your dentist promptly.