If your dentist or oral health therapist has told you that you need a root canal, you may be feeling nervous about the procedure. Even though it’s normal to feel this way, it’s important to remember that this treatment has been recommended as a way to keep your tooth rather than having it removed. Essentially, a root canal is a very deep filling of the tooth by placing a root filling.

The procedure: What to expect

A root canal procedure cannot be done in one visit, so you should expect to be in the dentist chair at least two or three times. These appointments are spread out over a week or two and the time each one will take depends on the complexity of your case. Molars take longer as they have 3 or 4 root canals while front teeth only have 1 or 2.

Over these appointments your dentist will:

  • Access the nerve area of the tooth to remove the pulp from inside
  • Clean and shape the hole
  • Place a filling inside the hole
  • Strengthen the tooth by inserting a support into the root canals if required
  • Cap the tooth with a crown

You don’t need to worry about pain, as you will be given local anaesthetic injections so the area around your tooth is numb.

unhappy man with toothache touching his cheek

Since these steps are not all done in one visit, you will be given a temporary filling to cover your tooth. While this may not look as perfect as you’d like it to, it will protect your tooth and reduce sensitivity from food and air. It is ideal to place a crown to protect the tooth from cracking. Avoid eating sticky foods and hard sweets that may increase the risk of breaking and losing the tooth.

What to expect after the procedure?

Once your root canal procedure is complete and the anaesthetic wears off, you are likely to experience some discomfort and tenderness surrounding your tooth. Your dentist may prescribe some painkillers, or you can take paracetamol at home.

The recovery period is quite fast, and although you should take care of eating in the hours following, you will feel back to normal within a few days.

Make sure to follow any specific instructions that your dentist gives you and return to your regular brushing, flossing and cleaning in between your teeth routine.

Is a root canal the only option?

In most cases, yes, but sometimes a root canal would not be worth proceeding with if there is very little tooth structure left or if the tooth has a crack through the roots. In these situations, your dentist may recommend having the tooth removed, but this is the last resort and every effort to save your tooth will be made. Like with any major dental procedure, you are welcome to get a second opinion so you can have confidence that the treatment plan you’re presented with is the right one.

Need a root canal?

If you believe you need a root canal or would like a second opinion, feel free to come and see us at Coburg Hill Oral Care for expert advice and comfortable patient care. Toothaches should not be ignored, so give your teeth the best chance of survival and book an appointment with us by calling (03) 9041 5301.