What is a Root Canal?
Root canals are the hollow channels reaching from the central chamber to the bottom of the tooth roots. The endodontic root canal treatment is often called by the same name, although endodontists and others in the dental field refer to it as a root canal procedure, therapy, or surgery.
Root Canal Symptoms
When one experiences tooth pain or has a deep cavity, we may determine that a root canal procedure is necessary. First, we take x-rays to find out how close the damage is to the nerve inside the pulp chamber of the tooth. Often, if a cavity is found to be near the pulp, the pulp will have already become infected. In this case a root canal procedure will eliminate the pain and remove any infected tissue. If tooth infection is allowed to continue untreated, the patient may lose the tooth completely, necessitating a dental implant or a dental bridge.
Root canal treatment starts by cleaning out damaged areas of the tooth. This is generally performed under local anesthetic, so the root canal procedure is generally no more uncomfortable than getting a filling. Once the endodontist has breached the pulp chamber, further anesthetic may be injected directly into the nerve of the tooth. This effectively deadens any further pain. The endodontist removes the tissue within the pulp chamber and clears any remaining nerve tissue from the root canals. Once the dental pulp tissue has been cleared, the dentist widens the root canal slightly and straightens the pulp chamber to prepare it for filling. The inside of the tooth is then disinfected.
When the tooth has been properly prepared, the endodontist fills the root canals with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha filling. The pulp chamber is packed with cotton, and a temporary filling is used to seal the opening. During a succeeding visit, we will then remove the temporary filling, fill the pulp chamber with a core buildup, and then repair the tooth with a filling or crown. During this visit, we will also check for root canal procedure complications such as infection.