Root Canal Therapy

The basis for root canal therapy

A healthy tooth contains an outer protective shell of enamel layer, followed by an inner adaptive dentine layer, and a deeper pulp chamber. The commonly used term of “root canal” refers to this deeper inner most pulp chamber of every tooth where the nerve of the tooth lives that acts to help provide sensory feedback to the body. For example to react to hot and cold.


Unfortunately a variety of causes can lead the nerve to become infected 

  • Active decay on a tooth
  • Crack extending to reach the nerve
  • Irritation from extensive decay or dental treatment
  • Knocks and injury to the tooth
  • A history of orthodontic treatment
  • Natural changes to the tooth

Once the nerve of a tooth is infected, the infection can build quickly or slowly. Sometimes the first signs of an infected nerve is very painful to start off with. This painful nerve sensation can be one of the most uncomfortable sensations that any patient will experience. It can disturb sleep and be strong and constant even if painkillers are taken. The Smile Team understands this level of discomfort is not pleasant and will accommodate patients to be seen promptly to commence treatment to alleviate this pain.

More often than not the nerve also become infected very silently, and only identified via a digital x-ray and dental examination testing. Even though there may be little symptoms to you the reason why an infected root canal cannot be simply left is that the infection will slowly but surely build. This often leads to infection extending outwards from within the tooth, destroying the bone surrounding the tooth. This slowly building infection is a factory of bacteria that can travel all a round the body even if its silent and not noticeable. This infection can also become very painful all of a sudden. As this infection increases around the tooth, it can further reduce the success of tooth replacement solutions such as dental implants.


Signs of an infected nerve requiring root canal treatment may involve the following symptoms

  • The darkening of a tooth compared to its neighbouring teeth
  • Severe hypersensitivity to hot cold with lingering sensations afterwards
  • A tooth that is tender to chew, sore to tap on
  • A tooth that is looser than its neighbours
  • Gum pimple near the root area of a tooth which may release pus
The Smile Team treatment steps

Root canal treatment involves the steps of cleaning out the space for the nerve of the tooth. Typically root canal treatment requires two to three appointments.

Step 1. The initial appointment for root canal treatment has the goal of flushing out the bacteria from within the tooth as much as possible. A small hole is typically created from the inside or top surface of the tooth to allow medications along with mechanical cleaning devices to remove all the bacteria in the root canal nerve space for each and every root.

Step 2. Further disinfection of the root canal space is made. This second step is often required for teeth that are already heavily infected.

Step 3. Once the inside of the root canal space is completely clean, a root canal filling is placed by The Smile Team dentist to finish the treatment. Depending upon the tooth position and previous restoration size, the tooth may require a composite resin restoration filling or a porcelain crown. For very weak root canal treated teeth, a post may also be required to ensure your tooth is strong for long term use.


Is root canal treatment uncomfortable?

For most teeth requiring root canal treatment there are no more sensations than with a standard restoration filling. For teeth with very unhappy nerves with already extreme discomfort prior to root canal treatment, additional anaesthetic may be required via special techniques to calm the tooth down before and after to enable comfortable treatment. The Smile Team dentists are caring and gentle with the knowledge and experience to assist patients comfortably through root canal treatment.

Will antibiotics fix an infected nerve?

Antibiotics can help to reduce the sensations associated with an infected nerve. However antibiotics can only reach the surrounding areas of a tooth, and is not effective at entering inside the tooth which is where the infection is being produced. Therefore antibiotics is seeing as a very limited short term solution where root canal treatment is the only way to effectively treat a tooth with an infected nerve in the long term.

Why does my tooth still have sensations after root canal treatment?

Patients often wonder why root canal treated teeth feel different to other teeth. It can be very common that root canal treated teeth simply have different sensations to non root canal treated teeth. Although there is no nerve within the tooth, there are plenty of nerves in the supporting structures of the gum and bone holding onto the tooth. Therefore a root canal treated tooth can still provide sensory feedback when used for chewing and being tapped on.

How successful is root canal treatment?

Long term research suggests root canal treatment is around 80% to 95% successful over 10 years. This is because the individual variations with the shape and number of roots combined with a weaker tooth as well as delicate instrumentation in the root canal space can create complexities and complications for certain patients. The Smile Team dentists are well trained in modern root canal treatment. With your health at heart, we will advise you of when complex procedures require the further help of a root canal specialist.

What are the alternative to root canal treatment?

While root canal treatments are considered to be worthwhile for most teeth, in cases where the tooth is very weak or there are cracks there may be a more reliable option in the form of dental implant replacement following the extraction of the tooth. Where reasonable it’s still ideal to try to preserve and save a natural tooth. The Smile Team dentists can help you to weigh up the positives and negatives of selecting root canal treatment or dental implant treatment, to make a great long term decision.


Dr Julie Khuoc

Family and Cosmetic Dentist

“Being able to improve the health and appearance of my patient’s teeth gives them a lot of confidence in comfort, function and aesthetics.  I love seeing this transformation.”

Dr Bradley Xue

Family and Cosmetic Dentist

“The most rewarding part of being a dentist is being able to create happy smiles and happy people”

Dr Julian He

Family and Cosmetic Dentist

“Whether it be to maintain a healthy mouth or a complete smile transformation, I love being a part of my patients journey to achieve their goals.”

Book your next dental appointment online