What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal (root canal therapy) is a dental procedure used to save and prolong the life of a badly damaged or infected tooth. A root canal involves removing the pulp, enlarging and disinfecting the pulp canal and then sealing the canal.
When Is Root Canal Treatment Needed?
Tooth trauma, a cracked tooth or a tooth with significant decay can result in the pulp of the tooth becoming exposed, allowing bacteria to enter the nerve and cause infection. A root canal is used to remove the infection and prevent it from spreading. Signs that you may need a root canal include:
- Severe tooth pain with pressure
- Discoloration (darkening) of tooth
- Prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Facial swelling and tenderness
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
- Sometimes there are no signs or symptoms present.
What to Expect with a Root Canal
To determine if a tooth needs a root canal, our dentists will do a series of tests and take an x-ray of the tooth to ensure a root canal is the best treatment option for you. If you and the dentist decide a root canal is the best option, you may be referred out to an Endodontist (a root canal specialist) for the procedure. Root canals may be completed in one appointment but can often require more than one appointment.
At your appointment, the dentist will begin by administering local anaesthetic to the numb the area. Once the area is numb it will then be isolated with a rubber dam, to protect the tooth from bacteria and saliva during the root canal treatment. The dentist will then make an opening in the tooth to reach the pulp chamber. Using very fine dental instruments, the dentist will then remove the infected pulp tissue and begin cleaning and enlarging the pulp canals. Irrigation is used to help clean the canals and remove debris. At this point the canals may be filled with medication and you will require a second appointment to finish the root canal. If no medication is needed the dentist will begin to finish the root canal by sealing the canals with a rubber like material called gutta-percha. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canals should have a crown placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, restoring it to its full function.