Why might I need a root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is carried out on infected tooth or teeth with trauma. Natural teeth all contain a nerve and blood supply in the central core of the teeth, this is otherwise known as the pulp. Teeth are typically infected if they are badly decayed or broken down, alternatively they can also be infected from gum disease and trauma. If infection is severe enough to penetrate the central core/pulp of the tooth, then a root canal treatment Is necessary if the patient’s wish is to maintain the existing tooth.

A root canal treatment eliminates the bacteria causing infection in the center of the tooth, it also helps to relieve pain and discomfort. The end goal of root canal therapy is to save the tooth so it can be fully restored with a filing or crown. The other alternative to an infected tooth is the removal (extraction) of that tooth.

What are the symptoms of an affected tooth?

The most common symptom is pain; the tooth my be throbbing, a constant ache, or tenderness whilst chewing. The gum or tissues around the tooth may look swollen or red and there may also be signs of pus. Usually infection does not start out with these dramatic signs and may be just a subtle sensitivity felt. It is important that you attend your regular checkup and clean appointments to diagnose infections early. Prevention is always better than cure. In some cases infected teeth may also not have obvious signs, especially when they have long standing infections. Often the nerves have died long ago. In these cases, they can be diagnosed only by an experienced root canal dentist with specialised investigations.

What is the procedure for a root canal treatment?

The tooth is numbed before our dentist removes the causative infective tooth structure, the dentist then assesses the center of the pulp through the crown of the tooth. This is to remove all the infected pulp tissues from the center of the tooth as well as the root canals tissues that extend from the center of the tooth to each root tip. The tooth can then be permanently restored once our dentist has ensured all the infection has been eliminated following root canal surgery. A permanent restored root canal treated tooth can be used normally and can last for many years and in some cases for life.

Is a root canal treatment painful?

Most people report that root canal surgery is similar to having a filling carried out. The root canal dentist will always try and keep you as comfortable as possible throughout. Can any dentist carry out a root canal treatment? Any dentist can carry out a root canal treatment however, if the work is considered more complex, you may be referred to a dentist who has undertaken further training or a root canal specialist (known as an Endodontist).

What to expect during a root canal treatment

If you think you need a root canal treatment, there are a number of steps that occur over a few visits in our Blackburn dental practice:

  • X-ray – if a root canal treatment is suspected to be necessary, X-rays will firstly either be taken for investigative purposes or to measure the length of the teeth to ensure the whole root has been thoroughly cleaned.

  • Anaesthesia – local anaesthesia is administered to the affected tooth. Contrary to popular belief, a root canal treatment is no more painful than a filling.

  • Pulpotomy – an opening is made and only the coronal diseased tooth is removed, the remaining apical healthy tooth pulp and nerves are left. This procedure is typically done on kids.
  • Pulpectomy – an opening is made and the diseased tooth pulp and nerves are removed from each canal.
  • Cleaning – the canals of the teeth still harbour bacteria on the canal walls. Careful cleaning is required to remove the infected tooth structure in the canals with specialised instruments and medicaments.
  • Filling – care is taken to ensure the root canals have been cleaned thoroughly and harbour no more infection, they are then filled with gutta-percha material and sealed off with cement. A permanent filling is then placed over the access hole to seal the tooth.

Aftercare following a root canal treatment

Following a root canal therapy, you may experience some discomfort for a few days. Your regular over-the-counter painkillers can be taken to help relieve this (always read the leaflet and follow dosage instructions). If your symptoms persist or worsen, you are advised to contact your root canal dentist. It is most important to maintain good oral hygiene moving forwards and any root treated tooth following a root canal surgery should be cleaned in the same way as the rest of your teeth.

Will I require further work?

Root-treated teeth are often more brittle than other teeth due to the removal of the pulp. Your root canal specialist will make an assessment and advise you of any further restoration required, which can be a crown; an onlay or in some cases a simple composite restoration is all that is required to protect it. Root canal therapy is a very successful procedure and helps save teeth that may otherwise have to be removed.

Is a crown necessary after root canal?

Root canal therapy primarily addresses the problem with a tooth which is infected or has a decaying pulp that requires urgent drilling and cleaning from the inside. The integrity of your tooth is either lost or severely damaged after an invasive therapy like a root canal and you will need teeth reinforcement.

A dental crown after a root canal provides reinforcement to your tooth and restores its health and functionality. Adding a dental crown is not necessary after every root canal treatment if there is sufficient strength to the tooth already or a minimally invasive restoration is possible such as an onlay or filling. Your friendly dentist will be able to advise on the most appropriate restoration. Adding a dental crown after root canal treatment can be due to:

  • Restoring a fragile tooth
    Your tooth can turn more fragile after root canal treatment due to tooth-drilling, cavity or infection. The process of cleaning during a root canal can also further weaken the tooth in some cases. A durable dental crown can minimise the chances of tooth fracture.
  • Retaining a natural-looking colour
    Some teeth change colour after a root canal treatment, some may even darken substantially. If a tooth appears worn or deeply stained, a dental crown can offer a more natural appearance and whiter shade to match the remaining teeth.
  • Which is better – root canal or extraction?

    Between a root canal treatment and a tooth extraction, a root canal is often the preferred choice because it works on fixing your natural tooth so it can remain in place. A root canal however, may not always be an option, depending upon the damage that a tooth has incurred. If a tooth is far too compromised, our root canal dentists might recommend an extraction, followed by a dental implant to replace what was lost. After examining your diseased or damaged tooth, our root canal dentists will recommend the most appropriate treatment method based on their professional judgment. Our gentle root canal specialists are happy to talk to you about any concerns you may have prior to any treatment.

    For more information on a root canal treatment in Blackburn, please call us at Blackburn Family Dental Care on (03) 98772589. Our root canal therapy services include emergency root canal treatments and root canal treatments for children.


    Contact us

    Our Location

    1 Main St,
    Blackburn VIC 3130

    Call Us

    Opening hours

    Mon & Wed & Fri
    8am - 8pm

    Tue & Thur & Sat
    8am - 5pm




    Get in touch

    Conveniently positioned for patients seeking cosmetic dental bonding in Blackburn, Box Hill, Burwood, Nunawading, Mitcham, Vermont, Forest Hill, Canterbury & Surrey Hills. Our Blackburn North Dental Clinic is next to Blackburn station via the Belgrave or Lilydale line. Walk towards Main St (2 minutes) and you will see a light blue signage.

    Parking is available behind Blackburn Family Dental, entering Main St or alternatively on S parade.

    Many buses, including 703 and 765, are also in close proximity to our Blackburn North dental clinic.