A root canal is the process of cleaning out the compromised tissue, debris and contaminates and filling and sealing off the space inside a tooth which was originally occupied by the nerve or pulp tissue. The process resolves internal problems with the tooth by eliminating irritants and bacteria and stopping any infection. It also promotes effective healing within the tooth and of the surrounding tissue. Root canal treatment can resolve nerve-related problems like an acutely inflamed, dying, or dead nerve.
What Causes The Problem
When the pulp inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected the dentist may recommend a root canal to save the tooth. The inflammation or infection may be caused by several different issues. They include:
- Deep tooth decay
- Repeated dental procedures on the same tooth
- Traumatic damage like cracks, chips or root fractures
- Gum disease
The Root Canal Process
This is what you can expect when having a root canal done:
Local anesthesia is injected at the base of the infected tooth to numb it and the surrounding tissue.
A dental dam is then put in place to isolate the infected tooth and create a sterile environment for the procedure.
A small access hole will then be drilled in the affected tooth to provide the dentist access to the tooth’s pulp chamber and roots canals.
Using specially designed instrument, the dentist will remove the dead and diseased pulp tissue until the pulp chamber and root canals are clean. This isn’t painful because the area is numb and the pulp being removed is dead or dying. Once the pulp containing the nerve is removed, the tooth cannot feel pain anymore.
The root canals are then disinfected with antibiotic and antiseptic solutions.
Using tiny, flexible instruments, the canals are held open and gutta-percha is put into the root canals. It is heated and compressed into the canals. The canals are then washed to remove loose debris and an adhesive cement is used to seal it. Sealing the canals helps to prevent bacteria from entering and causing reinfection.
A filling material is then used to seal the dentist’s access hole through which the canal were treated. The dental dam is then removed.
A crown is usually then placed over the tooth. This seals it and protect it from damage or recontamination.
Today’s root canals are performed using state-of-the-art technology including digital imaging, ultrasonic instrumentation and microscopes to ensure precision and reduce pain. That makes root canals practically painless.
Preventing The Need For Root Canals
Protecting your teeth so you won’t need root canals is relatively simple. All you have to do practice proper oral hygiene, visit your dentist regularly and protect your teeth from trauma. Getting preventive care like cleanings, as well as wearing protective sports gear and night guard appliances can also help. However, brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, having damaged teeth repaired immediately and cavities filled quickly so they won’t get too deep, along with basic home dental care can all help to eliminate the need to have a root canal performed.