What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that aims to save a tooth with a diseased, infected or badly damaged pulp (commonly called the “nerve” of the tooth) and provide relief from pain. The pulp is the soft tissue that runs in a canal through the root of a tooth and is mainly made up of nerves and blood vessels.

After root canal treatment, the tooth is pulpless but it’s not a dead tooth – it can function normally without its pulp and can be kept indefinitely. At our Adelaide practice, we’ll let you know before root canal treatment whether your tooth has a good chance of being saved and will only treat it if it’s likely to last.

What are the most common causes of tooth pulp damage

  • Root canal tooth pain Adelaide - before root canal treatmentDeep decay
  • Very large fillings
  • Tooth fractures
  • Severe gum disease
  • Loose fillings
  • Excessive wear of teeth
  • Trauma
  • Physical blow to a tooth
  • Continual clenching or grinding

Once the tooth pulp becomes irritated and infected, bacteria grow within it, causing pressure, pain and sometimes face swelling. Eventually, the bacteria can destroy the pulp. As this happens, the bone surrounding the tooth may become infected, abscessed and possibly destroyed.

What happens during root canal treatment?

Pain relief

The infected or damaged pulp is removed from inside the tooth.


Cleaning out the root canals in a root canal treatmentThe root canals are cleaned, shaped and sterilised so that they can be completely sealed.


What does a completed root canal treatment look like - Adelaide dentistThe canals are sealed with a filling material to prevent further infection. This treatment can take one or more visits, depending on the tooth’s condition and infection.

Sedative dressings and temporary fillings may be placed inside your tooth between visits to settle the surrounding tissues and destroy any remaining bacteria.

Is there an alternative to root canal treatment?

No. The only other way of removing the infection is to extract the tooth, which can lead to complex problems. For example, if a back tooth is lost and not replaced, it can cause further decay, food trapping, gum disease or drifting of adjacent teeth.

Will it hurt?

Root canal treatment is a comfortable procedure and involves no pain, since the tooth will be anaesthetised during treatment.

After a root canal treatment

Root canal treatment Adelaide - after the treatmentStudies show that about 95% of cases heal successfully. After this, the tooth needs to be restored to its original shape and strength, which may involve the placement of a crown.

Restoration is just as important as the root canal treatment itself to ensure long-term success.

What’s new in root canal therapy at our Adelaide practice?

At Island Dental, we use special automated cleaning instruments made from nickel-titanium to clean and shape the root canals, making the procedure easier and quicker – and less time in the chair for you.

If you have strong tooth pain, you may have an infection or abscess. Please don’t wait any longer – call our dental team in West Lakes, Adelaide, on (08) 8449 9777 so we can book you a consultation and diagnosis as part of our Complete Care.

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