Root Canal Therapy


Enameloplasty is a method of making tiny changes to your teeth by altering your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is ‘insensitive’, so these changes don’t hurt and don’t take long. Most of the time the changes make your teeth look better—like eliminating points, irregularities or smoothing small fractures on front teeth. Enameloplasty can also relieve the discomfort of rough teeth and can be used to effect minor alterations in occlusion. 

Root Canals (Endodontics) 

Root Canals (endodontics) is the art and science of treating teeth that have infected or damaged pulps. The pulp is a collection of soft tissues deep within your tooth; this tissue was originally responsible for forming your tooth. If bacteria infect the soft tissue, or it becomes exposed because of trauma, rather than have the tooth removed, endodontics (‘treatment inside the tooth’) is used to disinfect a tooth and allow you to keep it healthy. This treatment is also known as root canal therapy. 

What is Endodontic Treatment? 

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with the study and treatment of the dental pulp and tissues surrounding the roots of the teeth. Your pulp is a small soft-tissue organ found in all teeth: it helped form your tooth when you were growing and continues to function inside our teeth for the rest of our lives. The only time you might be aware of your pulp is when it reacts to heat, cold or sweet sensations (if you develop a cavity, for example). 

If you have an accident where your teeth are damaged or, if you clench and grind your teeth so much you crack your own tooth, bacteria can enter the pulp and it will react. 

It is sometimes very difficult to determine the precise cause of pulp irritation/infection. 

Endodontic treatment is focussed on diagnosing and treating the dental pulp after damage, to keep your tooth healthy. 

This includes performing root canal therapy, which involves removing infected or damaged tissue from the pulp chamber and root canals of the tooth, disinfecting the area, and sealing it to prevent further infection. 

Endodontic treatment aims to save teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted, preserving natural teeth and promoting oral health and function. 

Endodontic therapy might also be used to re-treat a tooth that has previously undergone root canal therapy but has become re-infected, and surgical endodontics which is done to fix problems with the roots of the teeth, such as external resorption. 

gutta percha root filling in place (pink)

How is Root Therapy done? 

Root canal therapy, or root canal treatment, is a dental procedure used to treat infected or damaged teeth. The infected or damaged pulp tissue is removed from inside your tooth and the space inside your tooth is cleaned and disinfected. We will seal your tooth to prevent further infection. 

Here's a step-by-step overview of the root canal therapy process: 

1. Assessment and Diagnosis: We examine your tooth and assess the problem. We might use 2D or 3D x-rays, special tests to determine if the pulp is infected and review what you tell us about the history of the symptoms. Symptoms that may tell us you need root canal treatment include severe toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold, or signs such as swelling around the tooth. Sometimes a pimple-like bump on your gum will tell us this is a long-standing infection. 

Assessment and Diagnosis


2. Control of pain: Root therapy is a delicate procedure that requires your absolute co-operation. Because of this, before starting the procedure, we will use local anesthesia to make you sure your tooth and the area around the affected tooth is really numb. We’ll also monitor your discomfort levels during the treatment to make sure you do not have any pain.

infected tooth


3. Pulp Removal: This is the first third of the treatment. When you are numb, we’ll make a small cavity in the biting surface of your tooth to get access to the pulp chamber and to the root canals. We use rubber dam to ensure your tooth is isolated. We use small instruments to carefully remove the infected or damaged pulp tissue from inside the tooth. This leaves the inside of your tooth clean and eliminates bacteria and debris.

initial stage of root therapy


4. Canal Shaping and DisinfectionThe middle third of the treatment is done by shaping smoothing the root canals, to create space for filling material. This process also thoroughly disinfects the inside of your tooth to kill any remaining bacteria.

5. Filling and SealingThe final third of the process is usually done during a second appointment. The root canals are filled them with biocompatible material called gutta-percha (link to window[below]), to replace the removed pulp tissue. You tooth is sealed with a temporary or sometimes permanent filling material to prevent recontamination.


6. RestorationIf your tooth was damaged by trauma or decay you may require a dental crown to provide strength and protection. The whole process of root therapy is necessary to preserve a tooth but it also might leave your tooth structurally weaker. Crowns restore function and appearance to teeth, and make the whole root therapy process worthwhile. 

Crown restoration

Root canal therapy is highly successful in saving infected or damaged teeth from extraction and relieving pain and discomfort associated with dental infections. With proper care and maintenance, a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment can function normally for many years. 

After Root Therapy Frequently Asked Questions 

How soon can I eat?
You can eat or drink straight away but it would be safer to wait until the anaesthetic wears off so you don’t accidently chew your lip. This is especially a problem for young people, so please keep an eye on children while they are numb. 

Are there any special precautions with my temporary filling?
Remember it isn’t as strong as a definitive restoration. Don’t try to pull floss up out of the space between this tooth and an adjacent tooth until your final restoration is completed. Brush normally, and avoid things like Minties™. 

Is endodontic therapy completed in a single appointment?
Endodontic treatment normally takes more than a single appointment. 

What sort of filling do I need after endodontic treatment is complete?
Today, there are more than 20 different materials and techniques available for restoring teeth . We will discuss the best option with you. 

Do I need antibiotics?
Unless you have a ‘cellulitis’ infection, or a swelling and a raised temperature, antibiotics are ineffective in treating dental pulp infections. 

What happens if I don’t do anything about this tooth?
You may develop a more serious infection which can’t be easily treated. Your tooth may fracture, or decay without you being aware of a problem. Because of this, you may lose your tooth. However, with appropriate and timely treatment your tooth has an excellent chance of lasting a long time. 

Is my tooth dead?
No. The periodontal ligament surrounding your tooth-root is alive—this is what makes root therapy possible. Teeth after endodontic treatment are best described as ‘non-vital’.  

Will my tooth go black?
Colour change in non-vital teeth is extremely variable. If treatment is started and completed within a reasonable period, there is a good chance teeth won’t discolour. However, some colour change in the short term may be unavoidable. Dark or discoloured teeth can often be whitenend and there are other excellent techniques for remedying this problem. 

Do I need to obtain a specialist referral?
‘Endodontists’ are dental specialists in endodontics or root therapy. I sometimes determine that treatment is too complex to be completed in this office and I may refer you for completion of treatment. If you would like a second opinion about your tooth I am happy to provide a referral–please ask. AQ 

Alternative care 

If you do not wish to keep your tooth I will discuss the most appropriate way to manage this process. It may involve a referral for tooth removal. 

After trauma 

If you have had splinting and stabilisation applied, this needs to be monitored and further treatment to remove the splinting will be required. 

splinted upper front teeth


You will also need regular review appointments. 

For teeth involved in a traumatic incident, this is usually at 1 week, 2 weeks, a month, and then every three months for a year. Yearly review appointments may also be necessary. These appointments can include dental pulp vitality testing, radiographs and monitoring of colour change. All of these are important in ensuring the continued health of your teeth. After trauma, dental pulps may lose vitality and the root of your teeth may start to dissolve in a process called external root resorption. It is important to catch this condition early and treat it appropriately. 

The term "endodontic" comes from the Greek words "endo," meaning inside, and "odont," meaning tooth. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in this field. 

As we age, pulp tissue becomes insulated with new calcified dentine hard tissue, and will react less and less: you may not even feel it when small cavities develop. This is the main reason we take x-rays, to catch cavities before they get too large. 

They are called ‘root canals’, but they are really small tubes, often with multiple branches. Canals is an old-fashioned term that just keeps hanging around. (this should be next to an animation of the inside of a molar tooth) 

Different teeth have different numbers of roots, and different numbers of root canals. Some molar teeth can have 4 or 5 canals. Most front teeth have 1 canal but some lower front teeth have 2. 


57-59 Elizabeth Street

Moss Vale NSW 2577

(02) 4869 3111

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