If you’re starting to experience pain at the base of your tooth, your dentist may tell you that a root canal treatment is necessary. Root canals are a common alternative to treating a damaged or diseased tooth. The treatment relieves dental pain and alleviates inflammation and infection at the root of your tooth.
The pulp of your tooth is a soft tissue containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue which help grow the root of your tooth during its development. When a tooth’s pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. This decay debris and damage may cause infection or painful inflammation.
How does a tooth’s pulp become damaged?
A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.
When the infection spreads past the ends of the roots of the tooth, an abscess can occur and cause bone loss, swelling, and draining problems which is why a root canal is necessary.
What is a root canal procedure?
A root canal is completed in one or more office visits. It is performed by a dentist or an endodontist.
An endodontist is a dentist that specializes in the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the dental pulp or nerve of the tooth.
Your dentist or endodontist will typically numb the area before placing rubber dam around the tooth to protect it from more bacteria and saliva. The dentist will make an opening in the tooth to reach the root canal system and the damaged pulp by using very fine dental instruments. For your convenience, we offer sedation to help you relax while we operate.
Once cleaned and shaped, the tooth canal is filled with a filling material (either temporary or permanent) to seal the tooth and keep bacteria from re-entering. Your dentist may use a permanent filling or a crown to restore your tooth. The choice of restoration will depend on the strength of the part of the tooth that is left. A back tooth will likely need a crown because chewing puts a great deal of force on back teeth. If there is not enough of the tooth left, posts may be used to help support the crown.
If the root canal is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep out contaminants like saliva and food between appointments.
Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime.