Root canal treatment (RCT), also known as endodontic treatment, is performed to remove the infected or damaged pulp from the tooth and seal it to prevent further infection. The procedure can usually be broken down into three main stages:
Access and Cleaning:
Access Opening: The dentist or endodontist starts by administering local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding area. They then drill an access opening through the crown of the tooth to reach the pulp chamber and root canals.
Cleaning and Shaping: Using specialized instruments, the dental professional removes the infected or damaged pulp tissue. They then clean and shape the canals to remove any debris, bacteria, and dead tissue. This step also involves irrigating the canals with disinfecting solutions to reduce the risk of post-treatment infection.
Filling the Canals:
Once the canals are cleaned and shaped, they need to be filled to prevent any future infections. This is done using a biocompatible material, typically gutta-percha. Gutta-percha is a rubbery material that is heated and then compressed into the canals to fill the space completely. An adhesive cement is often used in conjunction to ensure the complete sealing of the canals.
After the root canal procedure, the tooth can be weaker than before due to the removal of the pulp and the access hole drilled at the beginning of the treatment. To restore the tooth to its full function and prevent it from breaking, it’s often necessary to place a restoration. For many teeth, especially molars that endure high chewing forces, this will be a crown. The dentist may initially place a temporary filling or crown until a permanent one can be created and cemented in place.
In cases where the tooth structure is significantly compromised, the dentist might also use a post inside one of the canals to help anchor the crown.
It’s important to note that the exact stages and steps might vary based on the individual tooth’s condition, the dentist’s preferred techniques, and the specific circumstances of the treatment.