A root canal procedure, technically known as endodontic treatment, is done to treat and save a tooth that has a damaged or infected pulp. The procedure involves removing the affected tissue, cleaning and disinfecting the inside of the tooth, and then filling and sealing it. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what is typically done during a root canal:
- Before the procedure, the dentist or endodontist (a dentist specialized in treating the insides of teeth) will take an X-ray to assess the shape of the root canals and determine the extent of the infection or damage.
- They’ll also review the patient’s medical history, especially looking for any conditions or medications that might affect the procedure or healing process.
- Local anesthesia is administered to numb the affected tooth and surrounding area, ensuring the procedure is painless.
- A dental dam, which is a small rubber sheet, is placed around the affected tooth to keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
- The dentist or endodontist drills an opening in the crown of the tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals.
Cleaning and Shaping:
- Infected or damaged pulp tissue is removed from the pulp chamber and root canals.
- The canals are then cleaned, shaped, and disinfected using specialized instruments and antimicrobial solutions. This process ensures that any bacteria, debris, and dead tissue are removed.
Filling the Canals:
- After cleaning and shaping, the canals are filled to prevent future infection. This is usually done with a material called gutta-percha, a biocompatible rubber-like substance.
- An adhesive cement (often called sealer) is used alongside the gutta-percha to ensure the complete sealing of the canals.
- The access opening in the tooth crown needs to be sealed. For some teeth, a simple dental filling might be adequate.
However, after a root canal, many teeth will need additional restoration to regain their strength and functionality.
- This often means placing a dental crown on the tooth. The dentist might first put a temporary crown or filling, followed by a permanent crown in a subsequent visit.
- If the tooth structure is significantly compromised, a post might be inserted into the canal to help anchor the crown.
- After the root canal, patients might experience some discomfort or mild pain, which can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. The dentist will provide post-procedure care instructions.
- A follow-up appointment may be scheduled to ensure that the tooth is healing properly and to place a permanent restoration if needed.
The primary goal of a root canal procedure is to save a tooth that might otherwise need to be removed. The procedure has a high success rate, and many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime with proper care.