Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is the process of removing infected, inflamed or dead pulp from your tooth. The pulp is a soft tissue substance in the center of your tooth that is comprised of nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp is located in a pulp chamber, which is a hollow part in the center of your tooth and it connects down canals that extend down through to the roots of your teeth and into the surrounding bone. Some roots may have more than one root canal, but your tooth will have at least one.
Why is root canal therapy necessary?
When the nerve of your tooth becomes damaged or infected with a very deep cavity, having successful root canal treatment will permit you to keep your tooth instead of having it pulled out.
Abscess: If bacteria enter your tooth through a crack or a deep cavity, the risk of your tooth becoming abscessed increases. An abscess forms if the pulp of your tooth dies and pockets of puss form around the end of the roots. If the abscess is left untreated, infection will continue to spread to surrounding bone and tissue.
Pain: Pain is the most common symptom for the need of a root canal. If your tooth is still alive, it will become extremely sensitive to hot and cold; it will start to hurt spontaneously when you eat or drink, or sometimes in the middle of the night. If your pain increases or doesn’t go away, your dentist will examine the damage caused to your tooth with a dental X-ray and determine if a root canal is necessary.
Cavity: If your tooth has a very deep cavity, the decay can extend deep into the tooth, infecting the pulp with bacteria. If this happens, your tooth and surrounding tissue will become inflamed and very painful, and your tooth may die. Sometimes you may not feel pain with a deep cavity, but you should not leave it untreated. To avoid having your tooth pulled, your dentist will need to perform a root canal to remove the tooth decay and nerve that has been infected.
How is root canal therapy done?
Your dentist will confirm the need for a root canal with a dental x-ray.
Your dentist will give you a local anesthetic (freezing) and prepare your mouth for the oral surgery by placing a rubber dam around the tooth being treated to protect your tooth from further bacteria from your saliva.
The next step will be to make an opening in the tooth to reach the root canal system and reach the damaged inner tooth tissue.
Using very fine and specific dental instruments, your dentist will remove the damaged inner tooth tissue and enlarge the tooth’s root canal system and clean it thoroughly.
Once the tooth’s root canal system has been cleaned, your dentist will fill it with a special material specific for root canals called, Guta Percha. The opening of your tooth is then sealed with a temporary or a permanent filling or crown.