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ROOT CANAL TREATMENT GUIDE: PROCESS - COSTS - RECOVERY & MORE


What is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is used to save a tooth with an infected or dead pulp and prevent the infection from spreading. A root canal saves the affected tooth by cleaning out the diseased pulp and reshaping the canal.

Pulp exists inside each tooth, providing the tooth with nerves and nutrients. The pulp tissue can sometimes die if it is damaged or diseased. Once the nerve and pulp is removed, the root canal is cleaned and sealed for protection. A crown is then placed over the tooth to increase its strength.

In the past, teeth with damaged pulps were removed. Today, root canal treatment has provided dentists with a safe solution for saving the tooth and maintaining your natural smile.

Root Canal

Root Canal

How Do I Know if I Need Root Canal Treatment?

If you need a root canal treatment, you will probably experience the symptoms of pulp tissue damage. Individuals may experience symptoms differently, but these are the most common symptoms of an injured or damaged pulp:

  • Pain when biting down and chewing
  • Oversensitivity of teeth with hot or cold food or beverages
  • Facial swelling

These symptoms can also be a sign of other oral health issues, so they may not always indicate that you require root canal treatment. It is recommended that you consult a smile.com.au approved dentist if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.

Root Canal Pain

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What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?

A root canal is usually a simple procedure with little or no discomfort. It involves one to three visits to a dentist.

Here is a step-by-step guide to how the procedure saves your tooth:

  1. Your dentist makes an opening through the top of the tooth down to the pulp chamber.
  2. The injured or dead pulp is taken out and the root canals are irrigated and medicated.
  3. A temporary filling is placed in the opening at the top of the tooth in order to protect it between procedures. Alternatively, the tooth may be left open to drain for a couple of days.
  4. The temporary filling gets removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are cleaned then filled.
  5. A crown is placed over the tooth. The endodontist performing the treatment will advise you to see your dentist to complete this last step.

Most patients report that having a root canal treatment today is as unremarkable as getting a filling.

Root Canal Procedure

Root Canal Procedure

How Long Does Root Canal Treatment Take?

Root canals usually involve 1-3 visits to the dentist, and the process usually takes 30-90 minutes. A single root canal treatment can usually take anywhere between 30-90 minutes.

How Long Does it Take to Recover Take From a Root Canal Treatment?

The recovery period after root canal treatment is minimal, and you should be feeling completely back to normal after just a few days. Slight inflammation is normal and may cause discomfort for a couple of days or so. This can be treated with an over-the-counter painkiller, as well as a warm saltwater rinse.

Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?

The root canal treatment eliminates the pain caused by the tooth infection. A local anaesthetic numbs the tooth and surrounding area, making the procedure painless.

Root Canal Treatment Costs

Your root canal treatment cost will depend on your individual circumstances. Simply select your state on the table below for a root canal treatment cost comparison.

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Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
Queensland
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $50 - $70 $44
022 x 2 X-Rays $88 - $114 $78
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $541 - $809 $501
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $190 - $302 $161
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $150 - $205 $127
Total Cost $1,019 - $1,500 $911

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That's an estimated saving of $108 - $589!

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Important Notes on Dental Fees

Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
Australian Capital Territory
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $55 - $70 $48
022 x 2 X-Rays $96 - $112 $80
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $580 - $729 $493
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $193 - $270 $164
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $170 - $205 $142
Total Cost $1,094 - $1,386 $927

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That's an estimated saving of $167 - $459!

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Important Notes on Dental Fees

Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
New South Wales
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $50 - $74 $42
022 x 2 X-Rays $86 - $114 $72
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $518 - $810 $440
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $190 - $305 $161
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $154 - $202 $130
Total Cost $998 - $1,505 $845

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That's an estimated saving of $153 - $660!

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Important Notes on Dental Fees

Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
Western Australia
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $54 - $74 $45
022 x 2 X-Rays $92 - $112 $78
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $537 - $772 $466
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $176 - $293 $150
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $140 - $206 $121
Total Cost $999 - $1,457 $860

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That's an estimated saving of $139 - $597!

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Important Notes on Dental Fees

Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
Tasmania
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $50 - $71 $41
022 x 2 X-Rays $87 - $112 $72
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $590 - $810 $409
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $188 - $292 $145
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $160 - $190 $141
Total Cost $1,075 - $1,475 $808

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That's an estimated saving of $267 - $667!

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Important Notes on Dental Fees

Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
Northern Territory
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $54 - $58 $56
022 x 2 X-Rays $94 - $106 $90
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $548 - $652 $487
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $196 - $240 $176
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $146 - $150 $135
Total Cost $1,038 - $1,206 $944

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That's an estimated saving of $94 - $262!

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Important Notes on Dental Fees

Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
Victoria
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $50 - $71 $42
022 x 2 X-Rays $90 - $116 $78
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $544 - $810 $461
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $200 - $310 $170
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $158 - $205 $134
Total Cost $1,042 - $1,512 $885

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That's an estimated saving of $157 - $627!

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Important Notes on Dental Fees

Root Canal Costs Comparison

Item No. Root Canal Treatment (1 Canal)*
Dental service
South Australia
Regular patients pay

Example Smile fees
013 Oral Examination - Limited $54 - $70 $45
022 x 2 X-Rays $90 - $104 $78
415, 417 Root Canal (1 Canal) $544 - $764 $462
419 Extirpation of Pulp/Debridement of Root Canal(s) $175 - $292 $148
521 Filling - 1 Surface - Front Tooth $145 - $202 $123
Total Cost $1,008 - $1,432 $856

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That's an estimated saving of $152 - $576!

You can read more about Smile savings and benefits here.

Important Notes on Dental Fees
Last Updated: 5 July 2016
Source: Australian Dental Association's (ADA) annual dental fee survey conducted in October 2015.
Regular Patients Pay: The fee non-members 'could be charged' when visiting a regular dentist.
Members Pay: Members pay no more than this fee (the fee may be less) when visiting an approved dentist.
* This Dental Fee Example is a guide only. Your personal situation should be discussed with your approved dentist.
** You may require fewer or additional dental services which may increase or decrease the total cost.
*** This fee will vary depending on the approved dentist visited & will be reduced by 15% off the practice fee.


Why Do I Need Root Canal Treatment?

It's quite common to ask, "is it necessary to get a root canal treatment?" Or, "what would happen if I don't get treatment?" Your tooth cannot heal by itself. If left untreated, the infection could lead to:

  • An abscess forming at the root of the tooth
  • Deterioration of the underlying bone tissue
  • Severe pain

Delaying treatment for too long can make it impossible for your dentist to save your tooth.

The infection can also spread to neighbouring teeth, potentially leading to:

  • Illness
  • Blood poisoning
  • Fevers
  • Swelling of the face and neck

For more detail about the potential side effects and risks of root canal treatment see the details below.

What Are the Benefits of Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is a simple and painless procedure that offers many benefits, including:

  • Relief of pain and discomfort
  • Prevention of spread of infection
  • A healthy restored tooth that lasts a lifetime if properly cared for
  • No interruption or changes to other teeth
  • Normal biting and chewing sensation
  • You get to keep your natural smile!

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What Are the Potential Side Effects of Root Canal Treatment?

Returned infection is a possible, although uncommon side effect of root canal treatment. This can be the result of incorrectly cleaned root canals or an undetected crack in the root of a tooth. Returned infection can be aided with a simple retreatment. If you're concerned about the side effects of root canal treatment, you should seek advice from your smile.com.au approved dentist.

What Are The Potential Risks of Root Canal Treatment?

Over 95% of root canal treatments are completed successfully. Occasionally, a case may require a repeated treatment if there are diseased canal offshoots that have initially gone undetected, or if the canal filing instrument fractures, but this is very rare. Returning pain is a symptom of a root canal that has not been completed correctly. If you're concerned about the risks of root canal treatment you should seek advice from your smile.com.au approved dentist.

Are There Any Alternative Options to Root Canal Treatment?

The only alternative is to have the tooth extracted. Unfortunately, this can affect the surrounding teeth, often causing them to move and leaving you with a bad bite. Although having your tooth pulled out may cost less initially, the space left will likely require an implant or bridge to be fitted, which can ultimately be more expensive than root canal treatment.

If you have the choice, keeping your original teeth is always the best option.

Can I Take Ibuprofen or Anti-inflammatory Medicines Before a Root Canal Treatment?

Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medicines may help to reduce inflammation when taken pre-operatively. Seek advice from your smile.com.au approved dentist and follow the recommended dosage.

Can I Eat After a Root Canal Treatment?

After your root canal treatment it's best to wait until the numbness in your mouth wears off before eating to avoid biting your cheek or tongue. To avoid damaging the treated tooth, try not to chew or bite down on the treated tooth until it is fully restored by your smile.com.au approved dentist.

What Can I Eat After a Root Canal Treatment?

What can you eat and drink after your root canal treatment?

It's always best to seek advice from your smile.com.au approved dentist, but soft, cold foods are generally recommended. Soft, cold foods include fruits like bananas, mangos, pears, peaches and fruit smoothies, yoghurt, soup and eggs.

Unless your dentist advises otherwise, it's generally best to stay away from hard, crunchy, or chewy foods as this may damage your treated tooth or cause pain. Spicy or hot food may increase sensitivity in the treated tooth, and consuming alcohol may cause bleeding in the surrounding area.

Eating on the opposite side of the area treated may also help to avoid discomfort.

Can I Drink Coffee After a Root Canal?

Drinking hot coffee immediately after a root canal treatment may increase sensitivity and cause discomfort in the treated tooth, so it's best to avoid hot coffee until the numbness in your mouth wears off. If you drink fluids immediately after your treatment it's best to avoid hot coffee at least until the feeling in your mouth has returned.

Do I Need to Take Antibiotics After a Root Canal Treatment?

After a root canal treatment, the anaesthetic will wear off and you may experience a throbbing pain, which may last a day or two. Antibiotics and other pain medicines like ibuprofen can assist. Antibiotics can also help to suppress the painful symptoms of nerve damage. Your dentist can recommend an antibiotic to assist you after your root canal treatment.

Can I Drive After a Root Canal?

If you have not had trouble driving in the past after seeing the dentist for a filling, then there is no reason you should have a problem driving after a root canal procedure. Most likely you will be numb for an hour or two after your appointment just like most filling procedures.

Can I Brush My Teeth After a Root Canal?

You may brush and floss the treated tooth gently but should not floss if a temporary filling was placed in the space between teeth.

Do I Need an Endodontist for My Root Canal Treatment?

Endodontistry is a specialisation in root canal treatment; however, all dentists are capable of performing this treatment. Any smile.com.au approved dentist can assist you with root canal, and only patients with rare and special circumstances are referred to a specialist.

Simply click here to find a smile.com.au approved dentist for your root canal treatment.

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