Root canal treatment (also called Endodontics) is needed when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected through tooth decay or damaged by an injury to your mouth. This infection may spread through the root canal system, which could eventually lead to an abscess, causing a great deal of discomfort. If root canal treatment is not carried out, the tooth may need to be taken out.

The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection

Root canal treatment (also called Endodontics) is needed when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected through tooth decay or damaged by an injury to your mouth. This infection may spread through the root canal system, which could eventually lead to an abscess, causing a great deal of discomfort. If root canal treatment is not carried out, the tooth may need to be taken out.

denTreatmentOptionsRoot canal or endodontic treatment—treatment done to the inside of the tooth—is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

During root canal or endodontic treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.

Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.

  • The dentist gives you a local anesthetic (freezing).
  • To protect your tooth from bacteria in your saliva during the treatment, the dentist places a rubber dam around the tooth being treated.
  • The dentist makes an opening in the tooth to reach the root canal system and the damaged pulp.
  • Using very fine dental instruments, the dentist removes the pulp by cleaning and enlarging the root canal system.
  • After the canal has been cleaned, the dentist fills and seals the canal.
  • The opening of the tooth is then sealed with either a temporary or permanent filling.

After a root canal treatment, your tooth has to be restored (fixed) to look, feel and work as much like a natural tooth as possible. If an endodontist performed your root canal treatment, he or she will fill the opening of the tooth with a temporary filling and send you back to your dentist or prosthodontist for tooth restoration.

A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who restores and replaces teeth using crowns, bridges, dentures and implants. Your dentist or specialist may use a permanent filling or a crown to restore your tooth. The choice of restoration will depend on the strength of the part of the tooth that’s left. A back tooth will likely need a crown because chewing puts a great deal of force on back teeth. If there is not enough of the tooth left, posts may be used to help support the crown.

Root canal treatment may be done in 1 or 2 appointments. After root canal treatment, your tooth may be tender for the first week or two. Bad pain or swelling are NOT common. If this happens, call your dentist or endodontist.

You can still get a cavity or gum disease after a root canal treatment. Root canal treatment does not protect your tooth from other types of damage. With proper care and regular dental visits, the tooth could last as long as your other teeth. Most of the time, a tooth that has had a root canal treatment can be saved. However, there are cases where everything possible has been done to save a tooth and still the tooth must be extracted (pulled).

Most root canal treatments are successful. But in some rare cases, a second root canal treatment is needed. This is called retreatment. When retreating a tooth, the root canal filling material is taken out, and the canal is recleaned, reshaped and refilled.

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