Root Canal Treatment

Why do I need root canal treatment?

A tooth is comprised of the enamel outer shell, the dentine (the root material) and the living part of the tooth. The latter is often referred to as the pulp or the nerve of the tooth. In reality the central part of the living tooth is made up of blood vessels and nerves -the flesh of the tooth. When this living tissue is irritated by decay and bacteria, it may become inflamed. Like any living tissue when irritated the inflammation is to try and protect the living tissue and is the body’s natural defence mechanism to try and combat the irritation.

Unfortunately the pulp chamber of the tooth is enclosed and cannot react as would other parts of the body. This results in increased pressure inside your tooth makes your tooth “throb” as your pulse pressure fluctuates and causes intense sensitivity to hot and cold. The eventual result is that the blood supply to the living tissue is restricted and the latter slowly dies.

This dead tissue eventually leaks through the tip of the root and the bone around the tip of the root becomes infected. At this point you may develop an abscess or cyst at the tip of the root and can present a swollen face, increased temperature and increased discomfort. When your dentist identifies that your tooth is dead or dying you have the option to try and save the tooth with root canal treatment or extract it.

Preoperative instructions

This procedure will be performed using local anesthesia. There are usually no restrictions after the procedure concerning driving or returning to work. A doctor is available for consultation at all times should a problem arise after your treatment.

Continue all medications for blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems and any other conditions as recommended by your physician. Please eat a full breakfast or lunch as applicable, as the anesthetic may take two to four hours to resolve, and we’d prefer you have eaten. If you have been advised by your physician or dentist to use antibiotic pre-medication because of mitral valve prolapse (MVP), heart murmur, hip, knee, cardiac or other prosthesis, or if you have rheumatic heart disease, please make sure you are on the appropriate antibiotic on the day of your appointment. If you have any questions on this please call our practice and we’ll be happy to assist you.

If you can take ibuprofen (Advil) or paracetamol (hedex), it does help reduce inflammation when taken pre-operatively. We recommend two tablets of either medication two to four hours before endodontic therapy.

Root canal therapy the procedure

If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will most likely recommend non-surgical treatment to eliminate the diseased pulp. This injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and sealed. This therapy usually involves local anesthesia and may be completed in one or more visits depending on the treatment required. Success for this type of treatment occurs in about 90% of cases. If your tooth is not amenable to endodontic treatment or the chance of success is unfavorable, you will be informed at the time of consultation or when a complication becomes evident during or after treatment. We use local anesthesia to eliminate discomfort. Nitrous oxide analgesia is also available if indicated. You should be able to drive after your treatment, and you probably will be comfortable returning to your normal routine.

What happens after treatment?

When your root canal therapy has been completed, a record of your treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. You should contact their office for a follow-up restoration within a few weeks of completion at our office. Your restorative dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond. To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene.

How much will it cost?
The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth.

Home care instructions

Endodontic treatment has now been completed. The root canal system has been permanently sealed. However, the outer surface is sealed with a temporary restoration. A follow-up restoration must be placed to protect your tooth against fracture and decay. A complete report of treatment will be sent to your restorative dentist. Included in your treatment is a follow-up examination to evaluate the progress of healing. This appointment will require only a few minutes and no additional fee will be charged for the first check-up visit. Our office will mail you a post card advising you when to call to schedule for your follow-up visit (usually 6 – 12 months after treatment has been completed).


Discomfort may be alleviated by taking ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) as directed. Please note that alcohol intake is not advised while taking any of these medications. Should you experience discomfort that cannot be controlled with the above listed medications, or should swelling develop, please contact our office immediately.