Root Canal Therapy
Why do I need a root canal?
Inside all our teeth there are small conduits, called pulp canals, that course through the roots, eventually connecting through small openings in the root to the tissues surrounding the roots. The pulp tissue, or nerve, fills these canal spaces and connects through openings in the root, with the blood and nerve supply found in the tissues surrounding the root. Once this tissue is damaged, it rarely returns to normal. Either through a single injury or repeated injuries, it becomes infected and eventually develops gangrene, leaking toxins into the bone causing what is commonly called an abscess.
What can damage the pulp?
Caries or decay is the most common cause; however, trauma and repeated dental procedures also account for the death of the many nerves. This entire process of dying can be painless or accompanied by severe pain and swelling. Once the nerve starts to die, the patient has only two viable options: extraction or root canal treatment.
What is a nonsurgical root canal?
Non-surgical root canal treatment is a common dental procedure that is successfully performed over 15 million times a year. This procedure, depending on the variables unique to the patient, typically requires one treatment visit in our office. A local anesthetic is used to make the patient comfortable and pain-free during the one to one and a half hour procedure. In our practice, a surgical shield is placed around the neck of the tooth, isolating it from the inside of the patient’s mouth. In addition to allowing us to work in a relatively sterile environment, it keeps the medications and sterilizing agents used during the procedure out of the patient’s mouth. This shield, called a rubber dam, is one of the standards of care for patient safety. Once the tooth is isolated, an opening is made in the biting surface of the tooth. Through this opening, we perform the root canal. Small sterile files are used to remove the dead pulp tissue, while at the same time, creating a shape suitable to allow 3 dimensional sealing of the canal system. A temporary restoration or crown foundation is placed to keep the completed root canal isolated from the patient’s saliva. The patient is then appointed with their restorative dentist for the restorative phase of treatment. A success rate of 95% makes non-surgical endodontic treatment a highly predictable procedure.
To provide you with a better understanding of endodontic therapy, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to root canals are discussed.
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