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Root Canal Treatment

At Dental On Park in Milton, we pride ourselves in pain free root canals.


Root Canal Treatment is the treatment of a tooth involving the pulp or nerve space. Prolonged pain as well as sensitivity to hot and cold is usually one of the early symptoms of pulp damage. The pulp is ‘alive’ at this stage but if the damage is severe, the pulp tissue is unable to heal itself and continues to hurt and worsen until it degenerates and ‘dies’.

Both heat and cold expand and contract the pulp tissue, causing pain. At this stage heat causes pain which may take minutes to subside and this may be relieved by the placement of cold on the tooth. In an undamaged pulp the nerve tissue has mechanisms to control expansion/contraction so pain isn’t experienced. The cause of pain when a tooth ‘dies’ is the pressure of the ‘dead’ contents of the inside of the tooth ( consisting of dead pulp tissue and bacteria ) on bone and gums. The tooth often feels pain to pressure yet may not be sensitive to changes in temperature. Symptoms most commonly associated with a ‘dead’ nerve are a tooth that hurts to bite on, becomes sore to touch and in acute stages, facial swelling can occur.


Common causes for Root Canal Therapy include :


  • Decay occurring close to the pulp – unfortunately this is not always in just deep cavities. The anatomy of some teeth result in the pulp being close to the surface of the tooth. Even shallow cavities can result in the need for Root Canal Treatment.
  • Trauma –  Sometimes the pulp in the tooth ‘dies’ years after trauma and the mechanisms and reasons are not always well understood.
  • Effect of having large restorations or fillings over a period of time.
  • Irritation over an extended time.
  • Non-painful tooth death – Some people have pulp damage without any symptoms. They have no pain.


A dentist may discover a ‘dead’ tooth via x-rays showing bone destruction, or in finding a mobile tooth or  a hole in the gum that releases pus ( called a draining sinus). Attention should be paid to removing the infection and healing the bone. Long term dental infections have been linked to heart attacks and strokes.


Tooth pain that may result in the need for Root Canal treatment may include:


  • Sensitivity to cold and hot – Severe pain which lasts for some time after the hot or cold has been removed is a sign that the pulp  has irreversible damage. Sensitivity to hot and cold may also be due to decay, gum recession or crack.
  • Pain from chewing or pressure – this may indicate a crack in a tooth, periodontal disease or an endodontic abscess.


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