What is root canal therapy?

In simple terms, root canal treatment Is used as a way to save a tooth that is labelled as ‘dead’.

Root canal treatment, or endodontic treatment, is the procedure involving the removal of infected or dead pulp from your tooth root canal area (The area inside of the hard part of your tooth).

Once this matter is removed the cavity is filled with a permanent filling, and finally fitted with a crown. Your tooth has now been saved.

If root canal work is avoided and the situation worsen, the infection will become more severe and eventually lead to an abscess (A collection of pus that causes a bacterial infection and can spread to surrounding tissue with ease)

what is root canal

Who Can Perform Root Canal Surgery?

A general dentist or an Endodentist (who is a root canal therapy specialist) can perform root canal work in Australia. Various levels of education training include:

  • General dentist – 4-5 years of education and training (general dentistry)

  • An Endodentist – 4-5 years of education and training in general dentistry plus a further 3-4 years of specialist training

Taking the levels of training above into consideration, seeking the opinion of a specialist Australian Endodentist for a root canal treatment case is a wise decision for a more accurate quote and a higher chance of success.


Root Canal Symptoms

Before you conclude that you need root canal work done it’s advisable to go and visit a general dentist for an initial opinion. During this consultation you may be referred to an Endodentist who will assess the need for root canal work.

Patients suffering from the following symptoms may benefit from root canal treatment:

  • You suffer from severe Tooth Sensitivity or tooth ache
  • There is nerve damage to a tooth (hot and cold foods lead to discomfort)
  • Extreme biting discomfort which does not disappear
  • Touching or pressing the tooth hurts
  • Cracks which go into the Root Canal of a tooth
  • Trauma/damage to a tooth effecting the nerve inside a tooth
  • Tooth discoloration

Root canal therapy is a treatment performed by an Endodentist when a patient is suffering from extreme tooth pain, and the cause is found to be an infection within the tooth canal.

Other causes may include:

  • Deep decay
  • Having multiple dental procedures caused on the same tooth
  • Faulty crowns
  • An untreated crack or chip in the tooth


How Root Canal Surgery (Endodontic Treatment) Saves The Tooth

During the procedure, the infected or dead pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth with small specialised tools.

The dentist will make sure to remove all of the infected matter, as to avoid the problem re-occurring.

Once the tooth cavity is clear (including the canals), the tooth is cleaned with a strong disinfectant and filled with a rubber-like filling.

Once the filling has cured a crown is cemented onto the tooth, and the process is complete.

After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.

what is root canal

The success rate of root canal therapy is extremely high when treated at the right time, and is a permanent solution.

Compared to extracting the tooth and having a dental implant, there are many advantages:

  • Restored chewing efficiency
  • Normal biting force and sensation are maintained
  • The natural tooth remains so the appearance is unchanged
  • An affordable option
  • Root canal procedure

Root canal surgery

an overview

Treatment required

  • Local Anaesthetic
  • Drilling
  • Cleaning and shaping of canal
  • Antibiotics
  • final root filling placement
  • Bullet Point 2

Number of visits required

  • 2 - first visit involves the drilling and fillings, second visit for the crown placement

Treatment time

  • 1-2 weeks

Follow-up plan

  • Regular cleaning and maintenance

Step-by-step procedure

1

Preparation

You will be given a form of sedation in the form of a local anaesthetic or nitrous oxide (happy gas) in order to relieve anxiety what is a root canaland numb the area that the dentist is working on. A dental dam is placed over the tooth to isolate it and keep the tooth free of saliva.

The dentist will usually measure the depth of the canal at this point if they have not already done so. This step is important in order to ensure to whole cavity is cleaned thoroughly. An x-ray will be taken using an instrument that send a small electric current down the tooth canal.

what is a root canal
2

Cleaning the canal

During this stage the dentist will use specialist tools to access the infected pulp and thoroughly clean the area out.

This step sounds worse than it actually is – pain and discomfort will be minimal thanks to the sedation. All of the tooth canals must be cleaned out, regardless of whether they are infected or not.

Each tooth will have differing number of canals, so the time taken here will depend on which tooth is being operated on. Your front teeth usually only have one canal, whereas molars typically have 3-4.

3

Filling

Once thoroughly cleaned, the root canals are filled with a rubber like filling called ‘gutta-percha’.

Depending on your case, sometimes it’s necessary for a support post to be inserted with the filling as a way to stabilise the crown A temporary filling is placed over the tooth to protect the canal until the next visit.

During the last visit, the temporary filling is removed and a permanent crown is placed on the tooth. The process is now complete.


Pain After Root Canal Surgery?

It’s normal to feel a level of tenderness and pain after having a root canal treatment performed.

Painkillers will help to manage this discomfort once the anesthetic wears off, and the pain should subside after a few days.

Your dentist will prescribe you with appropriate painkillers which will be Ibuprofen (to manage pain and inflammation)

After your root canal is completed you may feel some discomfort in the treated tooth. If the pain continues for more than a few days even with medication it is best to contact your endodontist.

Here are some tips for post-treatment care and pain management:

  • Avoid eating after the procedure, especially while your mouth is still numb

  • Attempt to avoid chewing or eating with the area of your mouth that your treated tooth lies in. Once restored (after the second visit) you can resume normal function

  • Brush and floss as you normally would

  • The temporary filling may begin to wear off in thin layers before your next appointment. This is nothing to be alarmed of, however you believe the whole filling has become removed contact your Endodentist immediately.

Should I See A Root Canal Specialist OR Can I Just See A Dentist?

root canal procedure

Endodentists have the ability to see deep within the tooth

Before having a tooth extracted it’s wise to have a consultation by a root canal therapist/Endodenist, as the costs of having the tooth saved vs the costs of having it extracted (and they going ahead with an implant) are much more affordable.

Read more about dental implants cost and procedures on this page.

Here are some considerations:​

  • A general dentist may tell you that the tooth is beyond repair and that you should go ahead with an extraction, but an Endodentist’s opinion may prove different. Here are some reasons why you should seek a specialist’s opinion

  • An Endodentist can root-treat, re-treat and carry our minor root surgery, often saving ‘hopeless’ teeth

  • They spend a great deal of time studying the root system, and hence are experts on the matter. They hold a master’s degree or equivalent in the field of Endodentics.

  • An Endodontic microscope will be used, which is designed specifically for root canal exploration and used only by relevant specialist. This means that they have the ability to investigate the case more thoroughly and give you a more accurate assessment.

Tip: Make sure that during your assessment an Endodentic microscope is being used. If not, you may not be receiving the most appropriate care available. All good Root canal specialist will always use an Endodontic microscope in their assessment.


Will A Root Canal Procedure Work, Every Time?

The treatment is not 100% guaranteed, but on average 90% of root canal treatments successful.

Here is a helpful video to explain the success rate a little better:


How Much Does A Root Canal Cost?

Root canal procedures are complex and every case is different and hence costs will vary from one individual to the next.

Here is a general guide to the cost of root canal:

Description

Cost

Endodentist assessment

$100 - $200

Root canal therapy (performed by Endodentist)

$1700 - $2700

Core Filling/crown post procedure

$200 - $450

Total costs

$2000 - $3400

Points to consider when it comes to the above costs of root canal treatment:

  • Prices are based on the procedure being done by an Endodentist. When performed by a general dentist you can expect the costs to be 20-30% cheaper.

  • Having the procedure performed by a dentist as mentioned above may be more affordable, but if your case is complex the rate of failure could be greater. Taking this into consideration, re-treatment will cost 20-30% more than the original treatment.

  • The cost will determine on the complexity of the case and which tooth is being treated. Some teeth (such as molars) will have more root canals than others, and hence will cost more to fill. As a guide, molars with more canals will cost 20-30% more to fill than front teeth.

  • Sometimes filling will usually not be enough, and a full crown will be required. This comes at an additional cost of between $1200- $2400 extra

When compared to a tooth extraction plus implant, a root canal treatment is alot cheaper


Root Canal Treatment Costs Overseas

The cost of root canal procedures abroad are not as expensive as some other dental procedures such as dental implants, but they are still unaffordable for many patients around Australia.

With the emergence of dental tourism around the globe, it’s not difficult for a patient to find high quality dental work, including root canal treatment for a more affordable price overseas.

There is an increasing movement of Australian patients to seek dental care in Thailand, but it is highly recommended that prior to traveling for dental work you seek reliable referrals from people who have actually had similar procedures done.

Be sure to plenty of research on the practicing dentists you are considering and be sure to read through forums on websites such as http://www.tripadvisor.com.au

Here is a price guide for having root canal therapy done in Thailand:

Description

Cost (AUD)

Check-up/consultation

$5 - $20

Front tooth

$200 - $300

Pre-molar tooth

$300 - $400

Molar

$350 - $500

Core filling/crown

$200 - $1000

Don't forget about dental insurance before you leave, and it's a great idea to speak to your provider to find out whether they cover your for overseas costs (most don't)