Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is a common procedure used to address situations involving significant tooth decay that affects the inner part of the tooth called the dental pulp. Although no one wants to have a root canal treatment performed, it is often necessary and preferable to losing a tooth. After root canal treatment, a dental crown is typically placed on top of the treated tooth to further protect it.
Effects of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is not a single event; it is a process. It begins due to the presence of oral bacteria that form plaque on the teeth. Plaque creates an acidic environment that gradually eats away at the outer part of the tooth called the tooth enamel. This creates a hole, or cavity, that can allow bacteria to rapidly move into the core of the tooth, or dental pulp. The dental pulp is soft tissue containing blood vessels and many nerves. When tooth decay progresses to this point, it leads to significant pain and the need for prompt treatment.
Reasons you may require a root canal procedure:
- Deep tooth decay
- Faulty dental crown
- Chipped tooth or tooth fracture
Root Canal Treatment: Step-By-Step
We begin by thoroughly examining the tooth, which normally involves a physical exam and x-rays to visualize the pulp chamber. The patient then receives a local anesthetic to completely numb the tooth so that they are comfortable throughout the root canal procedure. We place a dental dam around the tooth to protect the surrounding areas and isolate the tooth until the work is complete.
Next, we drill down into the tooth to allow access to our dental instruments. We then clean the area and remove infected dental pulp. The resulting space is cleaned and altered to make room for a filling to replace the dental pulp.
At this point, we are able to fill the root canal using a material like gutta percha. A special cement is commonly used to completely seal the root canal and prevent further incursions of bacteria.
After filling the root canal, we normally place a temporary filling to protect the area. The patient would be advised to come in during a subsequent appointment for the placement of a dental crown. The crown will help to further protect the tooth that has been somewhat weakened by the root canal procedure.
Is root canal therapy painful?
Root canals do not cause pain; they relieve it. Patients find root canal treatment to be no more uncomfortable than getting a dental filling. The pressure placed upon the nerves under the tooth will be relieved with the removal of the dental pulp and the infection.
How long will a root canal treatment take?
The exact answer depends upon the individual details involved in your unique situation. However, most patients find that root canal treatment takes about one to two hours. In most cases, it can be completed during one office visit. In certain situations, a second appointment may be required.