When the tooth is affected by decay or infection, root canal therapy is needed. In order to save the tooth, the living tissue inside the tooth including, nerves, bacteria, and decay are removed and the replaced with special, medicated, dental materials, to restore the tooth to its full function.
Having a root canal done on a tooth saves a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more painful, costly and causes significant problems for adjacent teeth.
Root canal treatment is very effective and longlasting, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.
Root canal procedures require one or more appointments with a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).
After numbing the tooth, a sheet of rubber is placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is then made on top of the tooth. A series of root canal files are then placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. Tooth decay that is present, will also be removed with special dental instruments.
After cleaning, the tooth is sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling is placed.
At the follow-up appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth are filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling is then be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. All teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown placed to protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.
Once the root canal is complete your tooth may be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth is fully healed.
Your dentist will then give you specific care instructions as well as recommend good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits to aid in the life of your root canal treatment.