An endodontic treatment (root canal) saves a severely injured, cracked, or decayed tooth when its pulp (the soft inner tissue inside a tooth’s root canal) becomes inflamed or infected. If it is not treated promptly, pain or a tooth abscess (infection) results.
Root canal treatment involves the removal of the diseased pulp along with the tooth’s nerve (located within a tooth’s root canal). The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of your tooth are then cleaned, medicated and sealed. A dental crown or other restorative treatment is used to protect and strengthen the tooth.
Root canal treatment is completed in one or two office visits, depending on the presence of infection and the required treatment plan. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth. With good oral hygiene, the restored tooth has the potential to last a lifetime.
After reviewing a X-ray of your tooth, your doctor will thoroughly examine your teeth, gums and supporting bone structure, recommend a treatment plan, discuss it with you, and answer your questions. If a root canal is needed:
- A local anesthetic is applied to the affected tooth and surrounding area
- A small, protective sheet called a “dental dam” is used to isolate the tooth to keep it clean and free of saliva during your procedure
- An opening is made in the top of the tooth and your endodontist will remove the soft pulp and nerve and then shape the interior for filling
- The root canal is cleaned, medicated, and filled with a rubber-like biocompatible material (gutta percha)
- A temporary filling is placed - until you return to the dentist
- Your doctor will then place a permanent restoration, such as a crown, to prote