Root Canal Therapy

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure in which the diseased or damaged pulp (core) of a tooth is removed and root canals are filled and sealed.

Purpose

Inflamed or infected pulp (pulpitis) often causes a toothache. To relieve the pain and prevent further complications, the tooth may be extracted or it may be saved by a root canal treatment. Once root canal treatment is performed, the patient must usually have a crown placed over the tooth to protect it. The cost of the treatment and the crown may be expensive, however, replacing an extracted tooth with a fixed bridge, a removable partial denture, or an implant to maintain the space and restore the chewing function is typically even more costly.

Description

The dentist removes any tooth decay and makes an opening through the natural crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber. Creating this access also relieves the pressure inside the tooth and can dramatically ease pain.

The dentist determines the length of the root canals, usually with a series of x rays. Small wire-like files are then used to clean the entire canal space of diseased pulp tissue and bacteria. The debris is flushed out (irrigation) with large amounts of water and /or disinfectant solutions. The canals are also slightly enlarged and shaped to receive an inert (non-reactive) filling material called gutta percha. The tooth is not filled nor is it permanently sealed until it’s completely free of active infection. The dentist may place a temporary seal, or leave the tooth open to drain, and prescribe an antibiotic to counter any spread of infection from the tooth. This is why root canal treatment may sometimes require several visits to the dentist.

A metal post may be placed in the pulp chamber for added structural support and better retention of the crown restoration. The tooth is protected by a temporary filling or crown until a permanent restoration may be made. This restoration is usually a porcelain crown, although it may be an inlay or a composite filling (paste fillings that harden).

The tooth may be sore for several days after filling. Pain relievers may be taken to ease the soreness.

Root treatment

When a tooth’s core becomes diseased or damaged, a root canal may be recommended as the procedure of choice. After removing the decay and tooth nerves the space is filled with a non-reactive filling material. Once the area is free from disease the tooth is permanently sealed. A crown may need to be installed at a later date.

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