What We Discuss Before Root Canal Treatment

March 26, 2018

What we discuss with referral patients before root canal treatment.

It is so important that your patient understands what a root canal filling is, why it is needed and what the treatment will involve. Before treatment, we discuss all of the following:


Put simply, a root canal filling is a way of trying to save and restore a dead or dying tooth. 

Once the tooth has been identified we drill into the nerve canal area to find the infected tissue. This is done under local anesthetic to try and ensure patients feel no pain or discomfort.

Root canal treatment can be a complex process and often takes time to clean the tooth thoroughly.  A simple treatment on a front tooth can take as little as 1 hour from start to finish, a more complicated molar with several nerve canals, taking 2-4 hours.


Normally root canal treatment is completed in one or two visits.


We also make sure that your patient understands what they should expect after root canal treatment. We advise them that as root canal treatment is a relatively lengthy procedure a certain amount of stiffness and tiredness can be expected after lying in the dental chair for some time, but this is very unlikely to impact of their daily routine.


Root canal treatment is reasonably invasive for the tooth itself and as a result can cause anything from minor to severe pain after the procedure.  Usually the pain is only mild to moderate, but as severe pain cannot be easily predicted it is sensible to have painkillers to hand in case they are needed.  Pain after treatment normally lasts 2-3 days before subsiding.


We also advise patients that there is a very small risk of an acute dental abscess after treatment.  This is slightly more likely if an abscess already existed.


If symptoms occur months or years after treatment is completed, then we suggest patients contact you as their regular dentist for an assessment or a re-referral.


Normally, if there are no complications during the cleaning of the tooth then there is an 85-95% success rate over 10 years, which decreases to 75-85% if there was an active infection before treatment began.


It is of the upmost importance that patients understand that the success of root canal treatment cannot be guaranteed. We take the upmost care to provide excellent treatment but like all surgical operations in medicine and dentistry, there is never a 100% success rate.