Scientifically known as endodontic treatment, root canal treatment is a common dental procedure involving the removal of infected and inflamed tissue from within a tooth. Located underneath the enamel and dentin tooth layers is found the dental pulp, containing nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. The dental pulp is needed so that a tooth can grow and develop; however, a tooth can remain viable with a missing dental pulp by obtaining blood and nutrients from nearby tissues.

Root Canal Treatment

The focus of a root canal treatment is preserving the patient's original tooth. It is a good treatment for a patient with a severe infection of the tooth pulp, or significant inflammation. Left untreated, a dental abscess may develop under the tooth, affecting the function and strength of this tooth.

A root canal treatment is a common type of procedure involving the complete removal of dental pulp that has become inflamed or infected. This includes the complete cleaning out and refilling of the dental pulp chamber and root canal so that the area is protected from further damage.

By undergoing root canal therapy, a patient is able to maintain the function of their tooth so that they are able to keep chewing effectively with normal biting force. It also preserves the natural appearance of the tooth.

The Procedure

The dentist initiates a root canal treatment by examining the tooth. X-rays may be taken to visualize within the dental pulp chamber.

The next step involves the delivery of a local anesthetic via injection to enhance the comfort of the patient. The area will then be isolated using a "dental dam.” This is a protective sheet that prevents saliva from entering the area during the treatment.

Next, your dentist drills down into the tooth to open it up for specialized dental tools. These tools will be used to enter the pulp chamber and clean out the area. After the inflamed and infected pulp is removed, the resulting space is thoroughly cleansed and contoured to provide space for a special filling to replace the dental pulp.

At this point, the empty space can be filled using an appropriate material like gutta-percha. The entire area will be completely sealed to guard against future infection.

After the filling of the root canal, it is customary to place a temporary filling. Most patients are advised to have a dental crown placed over the treated tooth. This will provide long-term protection. Since the dental crown must be prepared separately, a temporary filling can be used and subsequently removed when the dental crown is ready for placement.

Is root canal treatment painful?

Many patients are under the mistaken belief that root canal therapy is extremely painful. The good news is that the procedure has been refined over the years, resulting in a relatively comfortable procedure that is typically experienced as no more uncomfortable than receiving a dental filling.

Any patient undergoing a root canal treatment will receive local anesthesia to completely numb the treatment area. And when the inflamed and infected dental pulp is removed, the patient will receive immediate pain relief.