Non-Surgical Root Canal

What is a Root Canal?

Root canal treatment is a procedure to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of having it extracted. This procedure involves removing the pulp in the middle of the tooth all the way down to the end of the tooth’s root. This is done to rid the patient of any excess decay, bacteria, and abscesses their tooth may have. A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed, well over 15 million every year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need of dental implants or bridges. The term “root canal” comes from the process of cleaning the canals inside a tooth’s root. Decades ago, root canals were extremely painful. With dental advances and local anesthetics, most patients have very little, if any, discomfort during or after the procedure. It can be more painful living with a severely decayed tooth.

Why do I need a Root Canal?

Teeth have a soft core called dental pulp. The pulp extends from the visible part of the tooth all the way to the tip of the tooth’s root in the jawbone. It contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. When the tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity protruding into the pulp, bacteria and decay can enter the pulp. When left untreated, bacteria and decaying material can cause a serious infection, or tooth abscess, leading to pulp death, bone loss, or loss of the tooth itself.

How is a Root Canal Performed?

A successful root canal treatment requires several steps. First, dental x-rays are taken to check the extent of damage to the tooth. The patient will receive a local anesthetic to control pain, which can be severe if the tooth is abscessed. A rubberlike sheet called a dental dam is placed in the patient’s mouth to keep the tooth clean, isolated, and free of saliva during the treatment. The decay is removed, and an opening is made through the crown of the tooth to gain access to the pulp chamber. All of the infected or diseased pulp is removed, and then the pulp chamber and root canals are flushed and cleaned. Root canals may be reshaped or enlarged to allow better access for filling. After cleaning and drying are complete, it’s time to fill the interior of the tooth. A sealer paste and a rubber compound is used to fill the tooth, followed by a dental filling to ensure the root canals are protected from saliva and bacteria. The final step to complete this root canal treatment is the restoration of the tooth. Usually a crown is placed on the tooth to keep it protected and allow it to return to its normal function.

What happens after treatment?

After root canal treatment, the restored tooth with the new crown should function normally and look cosmetically pleasing. If you follow good dental and oral hygiene, your restored tooth can last a lifetime. The tooth may be sensitive for a few days after the treatment is completed. This is completely normal. If the pain becomes worse or lasts for more than a few days, please contact our office so we can diagnose any problems.