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Root Canals

tooth cross sectionWhen the nerve of a tooth is infected, damaged or traumatized, it leads to tooth death. Fortunately, root canal therapy can preserve your tooth so that it lasts for several more years.

Why Do Teeth Die?

Teeth are living structures. As such, they require a healthy nerve and network of blood vessels to constantly feed and replenish the pulp area inside of the tooth’s hollow canal. But problems like cavities, traumatic injuries or deep areas of dental decay can cause the nerve inside of a tooth to die. When it does, the tooth may start to darken as it erodes from the inside. Swelling (due to infection) of the nerve typically leads to an abscess on the gums nearest the root.

Sporting injuries such as a blow to the mouth may not cause nerve death until years or decades later. The first signs tend to be tooth sensitivity and darkening of the enamel.

Large, leaky fillings that aren’t replaced in a timely fashion may also allow bacteria to seep deeper into the tooth, leading to a secondary infection and dental abscess if not treated quickly.

Repairing an Abscessed Tooth

Root canal therapy treats dying and abscessed teeth, preventing unnecessary tooth loss. During an endodontic procedure, we remove all active decay and clean out the damaged nerve tissues. From there, the inside of the tooth is medicated and completely sealed off. Depending on the extent of your abscess, the process may take anywhere from 1-3 sessions to complete.

After root canal therapy, it’s important to protect your remaining tooth structure. Since the enamel becomes quite brittle when there isn’t an active nerve supply, it can wear or chip away at an accelerated rate. Placing a crown over your tooth will allow you to continue biting and chewing on it normally, without having to worry about fractures.

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Your Comfort is Important to Us

Dr Kemm with patient and dental assistantTo ensure you’re comfortable throughout the entire process, we’ll numb the gums next to your tooth with a special gel, then administer a small amount of local anaesthetic to desensitize the tooth for several hours. As soon as the nerve is anesthetized, the treatment can proceed. Getting a root canal is as comfortable as having any other type of routine dental work completed. If you’re feeling a bit nervous, we’re happy to offer happy gas (nitrous oxide) and sedation dentistry to help you feel more relaxed.

What to Expect During Root Canal Therapy

When you arrive for your endodontic procedure, we’ll place a small mask over your nose to administer the nitrous oxide (happy gas). Next, we’ll put topical anaesthetic on your gums to desensitize it before injecting a small amount of local anaesthetic. From there, we’ll use a rubber dam to isolate and protect the tooth from any contamination during the root canal treatment, which also serves as a protective device since we use small instruments inside of your mouth.

After the nerve is cleaned out, we will place medication down into the tooth and have you come back about a week or two later or go ahead and proceed with filling the nerve canals.

What’s Best for My Tooth?

Before initiating any type of dental procedure, it’s our policy to discuss the pros and cons of root canal therapy and other treatments with each patient. That way you know what to expect in your individual case and if there may be alternatives worth considering. However, when it comes to preserving a damaged tooth and avoiding an unnecessary extraction, root canal therapy is usually the best solution.

If you are taking and anti-osteoporosis medication, root canal therapy is the preferred alternative over extracting your tooth or replacing it with a dental implant.

Getting a root canal can protect a damaged tooth, treat chronic toothaches and prevent the side-effects of unwanted tooth loss. If you were to have the tooth extracted, the situation would call for additional therapies, such as a dental implant or bridge to preserve normal chewing patterns and tooth alignment.

When well cared for, your tooth can last several years (usually up to a decade) after getting root canal therapy. However, it’s essential to brush and floss your tooth daily, to prevent any reinfection or decay to the structure that remains. If you hope to get a dental implant later, choosing endodontic treatment can be the best interim decision.

Alternatives to Root Canals

Typically, the only alternative to root canal treatment is to have the tooth removed. Since a filling or crown cannot repair an infection deep within a nerve, extracting the overall tooth structure is the next viable solution. However, creating extra space in your bite can lead to additional concerns as the adjacent teeth start to tilt out of alignment. Just like books on a shelf, taking one out can change the position of the rest. With tooth extractions, the opposing teeth (on the opposite arch) can also move due to the lack of a biting partner. In the end, an extraction may require additional treatments (such as orthodontics, dental implants or bridges) than it would to have the root canal therapy performed in the first place.

Effective Pain Relief for Toothaches

Abscessed teeth can range from completely asymptomatic to severely painful toothaches. When you’re in pain, medication can only help so much. The best solution is to have the infected nerve removed to prevent future swelling inside of the tooth.

In the meantime, it can help to take anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain. If the infection is severe enough, an antibiotic may also be necessary to reduce the number of bacteria that are present before endodontic treatment is initiated. However, antibiotics do not fully heal abscessed teeth or keep the toothache from recurring. Instead, it’s essential to treat the actual cause of the infection and seal off the root chamber.

Gentle Root Canals

For a truly customized Root Canal Therapy Sydney CBD experience, contact us today to schedule an exam and consultation. Same-day emergency appointments are available.
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* Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.


Root Canals in Sydney CBD, Park Street NSW | (02) 9264 5333