Root Canal Therapy


The inside of a tooth has a supply of nerves and blood vessels.  This is called the dental pulp.  If the dental pulp becomes diseased or dies, a toothache or an abscess may occur.  A number of conditions can lead to irreversible damage of the dental pulp.


These include:

  • Decay/Infection
  • Deep fillings
  • Trauma
  • Tooth fracture


Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Severe toothache pain
  • Swelling and/or tenderness
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present




In the past these teeth were extracted but now your dentist can offer you root canal therapy to care for these teeth.

Removing a tooth (Extraction) sounds like an easy solution however, ultimately removing a tooth is often more costly in function and money.

To read more about the reasons why and options for replacing missing teeth including Dental Implants, click here.




Root canal treatments are normally completed across multiple appointments.  The number of appointments, time in between and what is completed varies from patient to patient and tooth to tooth.  When planning your treatment we will consider the length of time required for each, the condition of the tooth and previous history.  Normally, the appointments will be scheduled as below:


Diagnosis appointment

root canal diagnosisAn examination with x-rays and various tests to assess the health of the dental pulp and surrounding tissue is performed.  Sometimes we will suggest taking a course of antibiotics prior to starting as a highly inflamed tooth my not respond to anaesthetic.  However, other times, we may decide to complete the first stage of root canal therapy in the first appointment.




Stage 1 of Root Canal Therapy

root canal therapy stage 1We will numb the tooth and nearby area we are working on for your comfort.  To protect the tooth from further contamination often a barrier will be placed around the tooth requiring therapy to isolate it from the mouth.  Access to the dental pulp is gained by drilling a hole through the top of the tooth.  The dying nerves and blood vessels are removed from the chambers inside your tooth (and roots) and an antibiotic is placed in the empty chamber.  The tooth is then left to settle for approximately 2-3 weeks.



Stage 2 of Root Canal Therapy

The chambers inside your tooth are measured for length and then cleaned and shaped with fine dental files.  They are then washed with sterilising solution and sealed near to their tip with a permanent filling.  The crown of your tooth will then be restored with a composite filling material.


Final touches

root canal therapy resultsOnce the nerves and blood supply have been removed from a tooth it becomes dry and brittle.  Anything dry and brittle is likely to break.  Unfortunately, in dentistry, unplanned breaks often end up more costly and sometimes irreparable.  Therefore, the final touch on a tooth that has received Root Canal Therapy is to replace the crown of the tooth with a Ceramic or Porcelain restoration.

Again, when planning your treatment we will consider the length of time required between Stage 2 of Root Canal Therapy and replacing the crown of the tooth with a Ceramic or Porcelain restoration based on:

  • The current condition of the remaining structure of tooth
  • Previous history of this tooth and others
  • The position of your tooth in your mouth


The time frame is normally anywhere between having it immediately restored during Stage 2 of Root Canal Therapy to 6 months time.




The success of root canal therapy with the use of modern technology is higher than previously and research shows the lifespan is usually 20 years, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.  Good oral hygiene practices and regular routine visits will aide in the lifespan of your tooth.