What is a root canal?
Underneath your tooth’s outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, which carries the tooth’s nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp (soft tissue inside your teeth containing blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue) becomes inflamed or diseased.
Causes of an infected pulp could include:
On the day of the procedure a local anesthetic will be given. The affected tooth is isolated with a rubber dam. The dam protects the tooth during treatment from bacteria and saliva. The amount the dentist can do within a single appointment will much depend on the amount of inflammation present, and the complexity of the treatment.
The first step in a root canal retreatment is to gain access to the inner tooth. During root canal treatment, your dentist removes the diseased pulp. The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are then cleaned. If the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result, and your tooth may have to be removed.
Next, thin and delicate instruments and a cleaning solution will be used to clean and reshape the root canals. X-rays may be taken to ensure that the roots are thoroughly clean. When the root canals are completely clean, gutta-percha is used to pack the space. This rubbery material seals the canals to prevent bacterial invasion. Finally, a temporary crown or filling is applied to tooth. At a later date, the color-matched permanent crown will be placed.
If you continue to care for your teeth and gums your restored tooth could last a lifetime. However, regular checkups are necessary; a tooth without its nerve can still develop cavities or gum disease. Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile.