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Root Canal

What is root canal treatment?

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Root Canal explained

Dr. Sarah explains everything you need to know
about root canal treatment at the dentist

Root canal treatment describes the removal of infected or damaged pulp (neurovascular) tissue inside the tooth’s root system and sealing it off with a filling material and sealant that will help prevent bacteria from reentering and reinfecting the tooth and surrounding tissue.  A root canal procedure is the only option for a tooth that has developed an infection inside the pulp chamber if a person wants to maintain its function for as long as possible.  The alternative is to remove the infected tooth leaving a gap and the potential for problems later on.  This pulp or nerve tissue supports the growth of a tooth throughout development during childhood.  Once the pulp has been removed with a root canal procedure the tooth is called a ‘pulpless tooth’.  You may hear people refer to a root canal treated tooth as a ‘dead tooth’ however this is not an accurate description.  The tooth is still technically ‘alive’ and will continue to receive nutrients from the tissue surrounding the roots to keep it functioning as a healthy oral appendage, even though, yes, it can no longer sense temperature or pain making it feel as if it has indeed died. 

How do I know if I need a root canal?

If you are experiencing…

  • A lingering sensitivity or intense pain to hot or cold
  • Slight to severe pain from the tooth
  • Pain on biting / tender to pressure
  • The gum below the crown of the tooth is sore to touch
  • The tooth has a deep unnatural crack that has formed and is now letting bacteria inside the tooth’s core
  • A persistent pimple or boil on the gum (possibly oozing pus)
  • The tooth becomes discolored (a shade ranging from dark yellow – black)
  • The gum tissue begins to discolor
  • Trauma occurs to the tooth from a knock or fall
  • You see and feel obvious signs of decay (tooth rot)

and sometimes there are little to no noticeable symptoms at all…

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Is root canal treatment bad for you?

This is possibly the most debated dental question with an answer that requires outlining both the pros and cons of root canal treatments to help provide some clarity and reassurance that you’re making the right decision for you.  Root canal treatments have certainly developed a reputation over the years for being a painful procedure to have done in the dental chair, failing later down the track forcing the patient to have the tooth painfully removed anyway, and/or weakening the tooth resulting in it breaking apart while eating a simple sandwich.  Not to mention, the entire root canal procedure can become an extremely expensive process to have completed. Possibly one of the most costly services offered in dental due to its complexity, technical skill and equipment and materials needed on hand to perform effectively.  When faced with the emotional decision to save a tooth with root canal treatment or have it removed, a vast majority tend to choose the latter as it provides a quick and cheap solution to what is usually a very painful problem.  

However, it does pay to take a few moments before you have the tooth removed to think about the consequences of not having a root canal procedure to save the tooth.  For one, removing a tooth can cause havoc over time as the mouth is unable to function at full capacity.  This puts a huge amount of stress on the remaining teeth and jaw.  This additional load will undoubtedly impact the stability and health of the rest of the mouth.  Therefore, opting to have root canal treatment means you get to keep the tooth in your mouth and continue functioning and chewing as normal for a lot longer.  For some, that’s a good enough reason on its own to risk the potential for something to go wrong later on.

For more expert advice on making the decision to save a tooth or have it removed, check out our blog Should I get my tooth extracted, or save it?

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Root canal treatments on AirSmile.



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Swollen face?  Severe tooth pain keeping you awake at night?  Eating and drinking have become too much to take?  You might need a root canal.  Fortunately, we have sourced the best dentist all across Australia with the expertise and high tech equipment that will provide you with a quality root canal service and get you out of pain.  Begin your search for an expert dental professional that offers the best root canal treatments near you when you join for FREE at

Finding the right dentist when you have an emergency toothache and need urgent care and possibly root canal treatment can be stressful and hard!  Root canal treatments are costly and take time to complete so you want to know that your tooth and hard-earned dollars are in the best of hands.  We are confident you’ll find the right dentist for you to deliver a quality root canal service if and when you need it.  Simply download the AirSmile app or sign up online for FREE.  Select BOOK and begin your search for a dental practice who offers the things which are important to you. Once you’ve found a perfect match, look for a time that suits and book your first consultation to discuss your urgent needs.  If you are in pain, be sure to select that you want to start treatment on the day so that the team can allow a bit longer for your visit and have things ready on hand.  

Finding and booking an appointment with a dental expert in root canal treatments is easy with AirSmile!  Join AirSmile and Book Today! 

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Understanding your condition is the key to making the right choices for you


Not always.  Most general dentists are highly skilled and confident in providing root canal treatments to their patients saving you a trip to the endodontist specialists, however, for times when the process has become complex, or you require re-treatment of the root canal, or the dentist is not confident they can deliver a successful root canal services, this is when you may be referred to an endodontist to have the tooth treated.

The root canal cost will vary depending on a few factors.

1. How many pulp chambers/canals the tooth has as the cost is calculated on how many canals need treatment (and yes, all canals need to be treated, not just the ones with signs of infection).  The number of canals a tooth has ranges from 1 – 4 depending on the tooth (front teeth have 1 – 2, molars have 2 – 4).  The average cost of treating one canal is around $700 – $900.  For every canal after that is between $150 – $300.

2. If you’re being treated by a general dentist or endodontic specialist, this will impact the overall cost.

3. Additional services the dentist may charge for such as; consultation, x-rays and temporary dental fillings used between visits.

4. What type of restorative service you choose to have after the root canal is finished to close off the access hole and give the tooth back it’s long term integrity.  Your options are a standard tooth filling or a tooth crown.

As you can see, root canal treatments are one of the most expensive treatments performed by a dentist due to its complexity, skills, equipment and materials needed to perform.  It’s important you receive a written quote before starting any treatment and agree to the full fee.

Completing the full root canal treatment process can vary depending on the level of infection in the tooth, the dentist’s preferred and learned method of performing a root canal, how you go in the chair and the flexibility in both yours and the dentist’s schedule.  

Most commonly, a root canal procedure from start to finish takes between 2 – 4 appointments, each around 1 hour in length.  

The dentist will numb the area which will last for several hours so it’s important you eat a good meal before arriving at your appointment.

The dental team always appreciates working in a freshly cleaned mouth where possible.

Have standard pain relief medication ready at home in case the tooth and gum are sensitive/tender post-treatment.

Make sure you have asked all of your questions, understand the procedure fully and what to expect post-treatment, are clear on the financials and make any arrangements for a payment plan before you begin.  

Avoid any speaking engagements or big events 24hours after your treatment.  Numbness can take several hours to wear off which may affect your speech and ability to eat and the gum and tooth might be tender and sore – usually, nothing that won’t settle after a day or so.  

Root canal treatment has a very high success rate considering its complexity and the circumstances that lead to needing the treatment in the first place. In most cases, dentists can give up to a 95% rate of success for a root canal treatment.  Obviously, other factors may alter the percentage of success at the time of treatment such as the amount of disease present, how badly the tooth has been compromised with decay or previous restorative treatments, the difficulty in accessing the entire root canal system and effectively cleaning out the infected tissue and sealing it up.  Any of these factors could lessen how effective a root canal will be long term.

However in the majority of cases, if you seek treatment early on before the infection and decay causes a considerable amount of damage to the tooth structure and with proper home care, regular visits to the dentist to check the stability of the tooth, gum and root canal following root canal treatments, the aim and hope is that you will keep the tooth in a fully functioning state for many years to come.

When you have root canal treatment the dentist needs to create an access hole on the top of the tooth right down the centre until it reaches the pulp chamber.  This first stage of the root canal procedure weakens the core of the tooth since it now typically has quite a large hole in the middle.  Secondly,  if tooth decay starting on the outer layer of the tooth burrowed its way into the pulp chamber and caused the infection, this will also need to be cleaned out as part of the overall root canal treatment.  Removing any amount of tooth structure impacts the overall strength and integrity of a tooth and therefore makes it highly vulnerable to cracking and breaking in the future.

A tooth crown will help prevent cracking and breakages of the tooth by giving it back its strength and stability, allowing it to handle the daily forces placed on teeth.  Any dentist will tell you, a great amount of root canal treated teeth often break in a catastrophic fashion with the end result being the tooth needing to be extracted.  This also usually occurs at the most inconvenient time for patients when time and money are limited.  A tooth crown is one way you can help prevent such an event. 

If you’re in pain and the dentist has diagnosed that you need root canal treatment to remove the source of infection to retain the tooth and return to feeling normal, unfortunately, your options are somewhat limited.  However, there are two options on the table for your consideration – each with their good and bad points.

Two options you might consider if you don’t want root canal:

1. Do nothing!  However, if left untreated, the infection can spread to your jaw and throughout your head and neck.  In rare cases, it can lead to sepsis.  Sepsis is when your body tries to fight the infection itself which then rapidly leads to tissue damage, organ failure and with no medical intervention – death. Developing sepsis caused by a tooth infection is a life-threatening complication of a condition that could have been treated with a simple root canal procedure at your local dentist.  

2. Remove the tooth.  This will remove the infection quickly and affordably (the cost of removing a tooth is usually between $150 – $450), however, your tooth has now also gone along with it leaving you with a gap and one less tooth to chew on in the future.  

The loss of a single tooth can cause several issues and health complications over time, such as:  

A shift in the remaining teeth causing your bite to become misaligned and unable to function to full capacity. 

When teeth start to lean into the gap left behind, gum disease often occurs in areas now difficult to access with a toothbrush.

Over eruption of the opposing tooth into space can alter the bite, cause damage to the soft tissue and in time, teeth can self extract themselves right out of the jawline!

Jaw pain and headaches from an incorrect bite and the added force required to chew food

Additional stress on the existing teeth causing cracks and breaks and additional costs in repairs

More teeth to be lost in the future leading to difficulty in chewing and speech, sunken cheeks and lips and ultimately replacement of missing teeth with false teeth (dentures) or expensive restorative treatments like dental bridges and dental implants.

A root canal treatment means you rid your body of the painful infection and maintain full function of the tooth long into the future.  

Root Canal

The pulp or nerve inside a tooth is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and tissue fibers.  Once a tooth has fully formed, it no longer relies on this stream of nutrients to help it grow.  After the tooth has fully developed, it begins to rely on the tissue surrounding the root to continue providing nutrition throughout its life.  Therefore, although not as strong due to its core being somewhat hollowed out, an adult tooth can function as normal after this pulp tissue has been removed, as is done with root canal treatment.

The main cause of an infected pulp is when tooth rot (decay) makes its way from the outer layer of the tooth (enamel) through to the vulnerable pulp tissue living inside the tooth’s root chambers, or when the tooth has been knocked or damaged in some way causing a perfectly healthy pulp to resorbed away or become infected.  Accidents aside, needing a root canal treatment is almost completely avoidable with a simple yet structured home care routine of brushing and flossing daily to keep decay away, and regular check-ups at the dentist to catch any small areas of decay and exposed areas of dentine from chips and cracks before bacteria has the chance to penetrate deep inside the tooth.

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