Ah the dreaded root canal. Most of us have heard the horror stories, but with today’s technology root canal therapy (endodontic therapy) is often completely painless and can save your natural tooth. So do not fear!
Root canal therapy is the process of removing the “pulp” of a tooth, which is matter composed of nerves, blood vessels and other living tissue. This is performed when the tooth becomes infected or damaged. Endodontic therapy usually becomes necessary when a tooth has either been traumatized by an injury or when decay has entered the pulp chamber of the tooth and has become infected. Depending on the complexity, root canal therapy can be performed by either your general dentist or an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in this procedure.
Initially, access is made to the pulp by creating a tiny hole in the crown of the tooth, and the infected tissue is then cleared out using a series of files. Next, the hollows of the tooth are cleaned out and sterilized. This step may take more than one visit because the dentist needs time to insure the infection does not return.
Once the area is infection-free, the hollows are filled with inert material, most commonly known as gutta percha, a natural polymer. This helps to prevent future infections.
After endodontic therapy is completed, the tooth is considered “dead”, because all the nerve tissue has been removed. This being said, an endodontically treated tooth is more brittle than a natural tooth.
Depending on the condition of the tooth, a final restoration of either a crown or filling will be placed.