ROOT CANAL TREATMENT
Root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it. The procedure involves removing the damaged area of the tooth (the pulp) and cleaning and disinfecting it, then filling and sealing it.
WHEN IS IT NEEDED?
The pulp inside the tooth can become infected with bacteria because of an injury or because of a severe, untreated cavity.
Without treatment, the infection can become severe enough that the tooth has to be removed.
If your dentist has recommended the treatment, here is a step-by-step guide of what you can expect during and after the procedure.
How a Root Canal is Performed: Step by Step
As the American Association of Endodontists points out, a root canal is essentially a four-step process. Treatment is usually performed over two office visits.
- The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, then local anesthesia is administered to the affected tooth.
- The endodontist makes an opening to remove the diseased pulp, called a pulpectomy.
- Next, the pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned and shaped in preparation for a filling.
- The endodontist fills the root canal with gutta percha material.
- If more than one visit is needed, a temporary filling is placed to protect the tooth, until healing takes place. The temporary filling is removed root canal is permanently filled and is sealed in place with cement.
- In the final step, a permanent crown is placed over the tooth to restore its natural shape and appearance.
- If the tooth is broken, a post may be required to build it up prior to placing a crown.
- Many people worry that a root canal will be painful, something that was true in the past. Today, with advanced anesthesia options and surgical techniques – a root canal is as comfortable as getting a filling.
- A treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care.
- Root canals have a high success rate and are significantly less expensive than the alternative, tooth extraction and replacement with a bridge or implant.
Sometimes root canals are not successful because an infection develops inside the tooth, or the original infection was not fully removed. In these cases, an apicoectomy, a procedure where the infection and the root tip are removed and a filling placed, is done. Other times a second root canal is recommended.
After the Procedure
Taking good care of your teeth and gums is a must after a root canal. You might need to schedule an additional visit with your dentist to X-ray the treated tooth and to make sure that all signs of infection are gone, in addition to twice-yearly dental cleanings and exams.