Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure in which the diseased or damaged pulp (core) of a tooth is removed and root canals are filled and sealed.When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result.
Inflamed or infected pulp (pulpitis) often causes a toothache. To relieve the pain and prevent further complications, the tooth may be extracted or it may be saved by a root canal treatment. Once root canal treatment is performed, the patient must usually have a crown placed over the tooth to protect it.
Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. During treatment, Dr. Chen removes the affected tissue. Next, the tissue will be removed, and the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite. If your tooth has extensive decay Dr. Chen may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect it from breaking. As long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.
Dr. Chen removes any tooth decay and makes an opening through the natural crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber. Creating this access also relieves the pressure inside the tooth and can dramatically ease pain.
Dr. Chen determines the length of the root canals, usually with a series of x rays. Small wire-like files are then used to clean the entire canal space of diseased pulp tissue and bacteria. The debris is flushed out (irrigation) with large amounts of water and /or disinfectant solutions. The canals are also slightly enlarged and shaped to receive an inert (non-reactive) filling material called guttapercha. The tooth is not filled nor is it permanently sealed until it is completely free of active infection. Dr. Chen will place a temporary seal, or leave the tooth open to drain, and prescribe an antibiotic to counter any spread of infection from the tooth. This is why root canal treatment may sometimes require several visits to the dentist.
A metal post may be placed in the pulp chamber for added structural support and better retention of the crown restoration. The tooth is protected by a temporary filling or crown until a permanent restoration may be made. This restoration is usually a porcelain crown, although it may be an inlay or a composite filling.
The tooth may be sore for several days after filling. Pain relievers may be taken to ease the soreness.