Nearby Dental
Root canal procedure cost and pain

Root Canal Treatment Guide – The Procedure, Costs and Risks

Dr. Kate DDS


Have you been told by your dentist that you need a root canal treatment? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. A root canal is a completely safe and painless procedure. This article explains everything you need to know about root canal treatment.

What is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is an endodontic (endo=inside, odont=tooth) procedure which is performed inside the tooth structure. This procedure involves the removal of inflamed pulp tissue from the interior of an infected tooth to relieve pain and swelling. Contrary to what many people believe, a root canal treatment is an entirely safe and painless procedure, if done by a qualified dentist or endodontist.

When Do You Need Root Canal?

A root canal procedure is required when the nervous tissue at the centre of the tooth becomes irreversibly inflamed. To understand why this happens, we need to learn the internal anatomy of a tooth.

Our teeth consist of two parts; the visible part known as the crown and roots which extend into the jaw bone and anchor the tooth firmly. On the exterior, the crown is covered by a hard covering known as dental enamel, while the roots are covered by the cementum. Beneath this, the teeth consist of a softer layer known as the dentine which is directly connected to the innermost layer of the tooth; the pulp, which consists of nerves and blood vessels that supply the entire tooth.

In some cases, the enamel layer of a tooth is destroyed, and the underlying dentine and pulp become exposed to the external environment, resulting in tooth sensitivity. At this stage, this condition can be corrected by restoring the tooth with a suitable filling.

However, if the condition is ignored for a prolonged duration, harmful bacteria gain access inside the tooth resulting in the inflammation of pulp tissue. When this happens, there is an unbearable pain which does not go even after taking pain medication. At this stage, the only option left to save the tooth from extraction is to perform a root canal procedure.

What Causes the Inflammation of Pulp?

According to The New Zealand Society of Endodontics (NZSE), pulp tissue can get damaged in the following conditions:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene – ignoring regular oral hygiene measures can cause gradual destruction of the enamel layer due to plaque and tartar deposition and increased bacterial proliferation. The toxins released from the bacteria increase intra-oral acidity, leading to teeth cavities and subsequent exposure and inflammation of pulp tissue.
  • Trauma – exposure and subsequent inflammation of the pulp tissue are also possible when a portion of a tooth is lost as a result of a trauma or accident.
  • Damaged Fillings – when existing fillings get damaged or chipped, there are chances that the bacteria may gain access into the tooth from the gaps and cause pulp inflammation.
  • Gum Disease – in some cases, inflammation of the gums can also lead to pulpal inflammation.


You may need a root canal treatment if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Unbearable pain which is not relieved with painkillers
  • Swelling
  • Pain on biting in the affected tooth
  • Pus discharge may be observed around the affected tooth
  • The appearance of teeth cavities or damage to the tooth

Treatment Procedure

tooth canal procedure

Root canal treatment is usually completed in multiple steps. However, your dentist may choose to perform the procedure in a single sitting. Here’s an overview of the root canal steps involved during the process.

  • Clinical Examination – when you visit your dentist with root canal pain and swelling, your dentist will perform a detailed examination to determine the affected tooth. Your dentist may also evaluate x-ray images of the affected to visualise the internal anatomy and the number of root canals inside the tooth.
  • Access Opening – next, your dentist will administer local anaesthesia so that you become wholly pain-free and comfortable during the procedure. Then, your dentist will make a small hole in the tooth to gain access into the underlying inflamed pulp. As soon as the pulp chamber is opened, the pressure inside the tooth will be relieved, and you will feel an immediate reduction in the root canal pain.
  • Pulp Removal – your dentist will then use special endodontic instruments to remove the pulp tissue from the pulp chamber and the root canals. Your dentist will use a medicament to clean the root canals to minimise the inflammation. Finally, a temporary filling will be placed over the access cavity, and you will be recalled for another appointment.
  • Root Canal Shaping – during the next appointment, your dentist will remove the temporary fillings and assess the extent of healing inside the tooth. If everything goes well, your dentist will thoroughly cleanse and dry the canals.
  • Obturation – finally, your dentist will fill the hollow interior of the tooth with an inert material to prevent re-infection. This process is known as obturation. This will be followed by a permanent filling to restore the shape and aesthetics of the tooth.

Recovery – What to Expect After the Procedure?

After the procedure, you may feel slight discomfort or swelling in the region, which should go away in a few days. Your dentist will prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication to subside the discomfort. In severe cases, your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to accelerate the healing process. The pain and discomfort should go away entirely in a few days.

Crown After a Root Canal

Generally, teeth become weak and brittle after a root canal procedure as they lose their blood supply and innervation. According to The New Zealand Society of Endodontics, a crown may be placed over the tooth to restore its strength, after complete healing has taken place.

Side-effects and Complications

There are generally no side-effects of a root canal procedure, provided it is performed by a qualified and experienced dentist. However, there are certain cases where root canal treatment might fail. In these cases, re-treatment may be required.

Complications associated with a root canal procedure can sometimes arise such as the fracture of the tooth, tooth perforation, or the extension of the endodontic instruments beyond the root into the periodontal tissues, leading to an injury.

Root Canal Cost

The root canal cost depends on the location and the number of root canals present in the affected tooth. Generally, root canal treatment for a single rooted tooth can cost around NZ $650 for individual rooted teeth like incisors and canines, NZ $750 for two rooted like premolars and NZ $950 for teeth having multiple rooted canals like molars.  These prices are exclusive of the costs involved in placing permanent fillings and crowns after the procedure.

Here’s a summary of root canal treatment costs around the world.

Root Canal Prices Worldwide

Single RootedMulti-Rooted
3.AustraliaAUD 1700AUD 2500

With proper care, root canal treatment can last just like a natural tooth. Also, thanks to modern dentistry, root canals have become a safe and completely painless procedure. However, these procedures can be altogether avoided; through optimal oral hygiene maintenance and regular dental check-up visits. So, make sure you brush and floss regularly, and you can say goodbye to all your dental worries.

You can find other treatment guides at Nearby Dental homepage.