Bell Hill Dental
Close up of woman's smile at dentist in Dunedin NZ

All You Need to Know About Root Canal Therapy

April 29, 2022
Posted By: Bell Hill Dental
Patient smiling at root canal dentist in Dunedin NZ

Finally! You've just sat down at your favourite restaurant and taken a bite of that special meal. The familiar flavours hit your taste buds as you buckle in for an exceptional culinary experience, but wait! Your back right molar starts delivering a painful punch with every bite as you forget about the much-anticipated textures and flavours, and the meal suddenly loses its lustre. What's happening here? Pain and sensitivity in the teeth can get in the way of a nice meal and start dictating which teeth we use and cause problems throughout the day. Painful or sensitive teeth may indicate the need for a root canal treatment.

Whilst some may associate a negative stigma with this procedure, visiting your dentist in Dunedin, Otago for a root canal procedure can save your tooth and allow you to experience those exceptional meals once again.

What Is a Root Canal?

If we take a look at the anatomy of a tooth, root canals refer to the inner parts of the tooth (similar to the roots of a plant) that hold nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels essential to the tooth's health and survival. The root canals house and protects these crucial parts of the inner tooth anatomy, also referred to as the pulp. A patient may require a root canal treatment (or endodontic treatment) when the pulp starts getting infected, causing root canal pain and other symptoms detrimental to oral health. Without cleaning and removing infection, patients can suffer pain, sensitivity, or tooth loss.

When Might I Need a Root Canal Procedure? 

Chipped and broken teeth can allow the bacteria to enter and infect the pulp. Even though the tooth experiences inner infection, patients may still see evidence of disease through discoloured teeth and gums. If you're feeling sensitivity or pain in one or several teeth, coming in for a consultation can help us take a closer look at what's going on. We generally associate the following symptoms with root canal treatments:

  • High levels of pain while chewing 
  • Buildup of pus on the outside of the gums (resembling a bump or pimple)
  • Unusually high levels of sensitivity from hot or cold foods and beverages 
  • Swelling and tenderness of the gums 
  • Noticeable decay in the teeth and gums 

A dentist can diagnose an infection by interviewing a patient, taking note of symptoms, taking x-rays, visually inspecting the teeth and gums, and gently probing around the mouth with dental instruments.

Root Canal Procedures in Dunedin

At Bell Hill Dental, we can assess patients' teeth and symptoms to determine if a root canal treatment is necessary. Our professional staff always offers transparent advice and details on our procedures to patients and leaves them with the final decision. When we perform a root canal treatment, patients can usually expect the following:

  1. Our dentist will isolate and numb the infected tooth and surrounding area to ensure a painless process
  2. To remove the infection, we'll access the root canals by drilling through the tooth straight into the pulp chamber
  3. After accessing the pulp chamber, we can clean and altogether remove any infection (this is essential for saving the tooth!)
  4. Once the root canal is clean and empty, we can fill the canal with gutta-percha; a resilient, biocompatible material that replaces the pulp's previously infected nerves, tissues, and blood vessels. 
  5. Lastly, the tooth still needs to heal! We'll need to cover the exposed canals with a dental crown that restores function and appearance to the previously infected tooth. 

Although you may hear of them as a separate procedure, dental crowns play an essential role in root canal treatments, dental implants, and dental bridges. For more information on dental crowns and how they can benefit your smile, don't hesitate to reach out to our dental clinic on (03) 477 8387.

Benefits of Saving Your Smile With a Root Canal Procedure 

Patients who successfully undergo root canal procedures can expect several positive aspects during and post-treatment. 

  • No pain during the procedure thanks to numbing agents and anaesthetics
  • Improved cosmetic dental appearance
  • Ability to chew food and drink beverages normally 
  • Unencumbered speech thanks to pain relief and normal tooth function 
  • Improved oral health for teeth, gums, and oral tissues 
  • Removal of infection from the mouth

Getting Ready for Your Dental Implant Procedure 

Yes, saving your tooth couldn't be more critical, but how much should patients expect to pay? And how long does a root canal procedure take? Root canal costs in NZ vary from patient to patient, as everyone's specific dental situation is unique! While an endodontic treatment generally lasts 30 to 90 minutes, some procedures may take longer due to more than one infected tooth, the severity of infection, and the possibility of return appointments. The best way to find out the cost and estimated time for your root canal procedure is by arranging an initial consultation. Our staff can provide all of the necessary details for planning and scheduling your treatment.

Contact Our Dental Clinic in Dunedin

If you've noticed any unwanted symptoms, recently chipped or cracked a tooth or constantly experiencing pain, our team is here to assist! We invite new and existing patients to contact our dental clinic and schedule an appointment. Our staff creates a welcoming, comfortable environment for all of our patients, whether they need a routine teeth cleaning, root canal treatment, or any other procedure! Patients can contact us on (03) 477 8387 or book an appointment online.