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What is tooth decay?

A disease caused by specific bacteria or germs that live in the mouth. Damage starts as white or brown spots and gradually the surface enamel is broken down and a hole forms. Once a cavity is formed the spread is much more rapid as the under layer is softer and cleaning becomes more difficult. Many cavities start in the biting surfaces of the back teeth because these surfaces are uneven with fissures, resulting in food impaction and plaque build-up.

What happens if the caries is left untreated?

In the below diagram the “white or brown spot” actually has progressed to become a darker area of decay which has gone untreated to the point where the decay has infected the nerve or root canal of the tooth.


Fillings are done to “mend” teeth that have been damaged though decay or possibly an oral injury. The tooth is cleaned to remove any decay or debris so the filling can adhere to the enamel and prevent further damage to the tooth. The size and location along with other factors are considered before we determine the type of  filling material we will recommend for you.

What are the causes of tooth decay?

Tooth decay is generally a result of improper oral hygiene i.e. not brushing properly, flossing or rinsing after meals. Unregulated diet of sweet food and drinks like aerated drinks, jam, marmalade and even potato chips are also responsible for tooth decay.


Onlays and inlays  are often referred to as partial crowns. They use the existing tooth as a base and fit the inlay or onlay onto the tooth. This is done to strengthen the tooth, restore its shape, and prevent further damage. An inlay is done when there is no damage to the cusps of the tooth and the inlay can be placed right on the tooth. An onlay is used when the damage is a little more extensive.

The decayed area of the tooth is first removed during the procedure. A mold of the tooth is then taken and sent to a dental lab. They create a restoration made from porcelain, gold, or a composite resin.. During your next visit the inlay or onlay will be placed into your mouth and set with cement. Your tooth will look natural and you or anyone else won’t be able to tell the difference.


Though the term, “root canal” can strike fear into the hearts of many, root canal therapy is actually a common dental treatment for saving an abscessed tooth.

Why would I need a root canal treatment?

The hard outer layers of a tooth are designed to protect the soft center, which is full of nerves and blood vessels.  These nerves and blood vessels run through thin tunnels, or canals, through the roots of the tooth, to the gums.  If decay or trauma breaks through the hard layers of the tooth, the inner layer can get infected, creating a painful condition called an abscessed tooth.   To prevent the spread of this infection to your gums and the rest of your mouth, you have two choices – pull the tooth, or have root canal therapy.

Root canal therapy is preferable because it cleans out the infected part of the tooth, but saves much of rest of the natural tooth.

When Do You Need to Get a Root Canal treatment?

If you face any of these following symptoms regularly, it’s probably time to get in touch with us.

  • Severe tooth pain, especially in response to temperature changes. Pain could be spontaneous shooting-pains or throbbing aches
  • Teeth are tender and painful, especially when you’re chewing
  • Continuous pain for a while after eating or drinking anything cold
  • Tooth-pain that increases when you lie down and reduces once you sit up
  • Prominent swelling around the tooth
  • Increased sensitivity when you’re having sweets
  • If tooth pain spreads to your head or your ears

Root canal treatment or endodontic surgery is usually needed when the infection and tooth decay spreads to the nerve in the tooth, which usually leads to an abscess. An abscess can cause severe pain and tenderness in the affected tooth while biting, along with dangerous infections.

What is a “root canal” procedure like?

Root canal therapy is really not much more complicated than getting a filling.  These  procedures are done right in your dentist’s office

How is it done??????

First your dentist will get you numb, with an anesthetic, to keep you comfortable during the procedure.  Using special tools, your dentist will create an opening in the top of the tooth, and then remove all the soft tissue from the middle of the tooth and canals down through the roots.  These empty spaces are then filled with a substance that disinfects the area and acts as filler.  Your dentist may permanently seal the tooth immediately, or may wait one week to make sure the infection has been eliminated.
In most cases where a tooth needed root canal therapy, the visible part of the tooth above the gum line also has extensive damage.  In this case, to completely restore the look and function of the tooth, your dentist will probably shape the tooth and fit it with an artificial cap, called a crown.

If you have a severely damaged, decaying tooth or a serious tooth infection (abscess), your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment. Root canals are used to repair and save your tooth instead of removing it.

What’s involved in Root Canal Repair?

The pulp is soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and provides nourishment for your tooth. It can become infected if you have:

  • A deep cavity
  • Repeated dental procedures that disturb this tissue
  • A cracked or fractured tooth
  • Injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip)

If untreated, the tissues around the root of your tooth can become infected. When this happens, you will often feel pain and swelling and an abscess may form inside the tooth and/or in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. An infection can also put you at risk of losing your tooth completely because bacteria can damage the bone that keeps your tooth connected to your jaw.

How Long Will a Root Canal Filling Last?

With proper care, your restored tooth can last a lifetime. Make it a point to brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, clean between your teeth once a day and see your dentist regularly to make sure your teeth are strong and healthy.

What Should I Expect?

A root canal treatment usually takes 1 or 2 office visits to complete. There is little to no pain because your dentist will use local anesthesia so you don’t feel the procedure. Once the procedure is complete, you should no longer feel the pain you felt before having it done.

Before treatment begins, your dentist will:

Take X-rays to get a clear view of your tooth and the surrounding bone.

Numb the area around and including your tooth so you are comfortable during the treatment.

During treatment, your dentist will:

Create an opening in the top of your tooth.

Remove the tooth’s nerve from inside the tooth and in the areas in the root, known the root canal.

The root canal, pulp chamber and their surrounding areas are cleaned with root canal files to remove any debris and bacteria. Once your tooth and root canals are dry and clean, the interior is filled in and sealed with biocompatible material like gutta purcha points to seal them against future infection.

Place a temporary filling on the tooth to protect it until a definitive restoration like a permanent filling or crown can be placed at the earliest opportunity.

After root canal treatment:

Some tenderness in the teeth is likely and you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication for it. Follow up with your dentist if you have any problems taking it.

You will need a follow-up visit after the root canal treatment. At this visit, your dentist will remove the temporary filling on the tooth and replace it with a regular filling or a crown to protect your tooth from further damage. A metal or plastic post may also be placed in the root canal to help make sure the filling materials remain in place. This helps support a crown if you need one.


Crowns are a restorative procedure used to improve your tooth’s shape or to strengthen a tooth. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay.

A crown is a “cap” cemented onto an existing tooth that usually covers the portion of your tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes your tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns can be made of porcelain, metal, or both. Porcelain crowns are most often preferred because they mimic the translucency of natural teeth and are very strong.

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It may be recommended to:

  • Replace a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restore a fractured tooth
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
  • Cover a tooth that has had root canaltreatment

Your crown is created in a lab from your unique tooth impression, which allows a dental laboratory technician to examine all aspects of your bite and jaw movements. Your crown is then sculpted just for you so that your bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed.