What is a "Root Ranal" and what does Root Canal Treatment involve?

Root Canal Therapy

A "root canal"is the actual name of the internal space within a tooth that houses the nerve tissue, blood supply and lymphatics for the tooth. It can be one canal or several canals (seen in the back teeth) that coalesce into an area called the "pulp chamber". Often time people will, "need a root canal" and this means a procedure to address this area to remove the biologic tissue. There are several reasons one might require a root canal procedure (endodontic therapy):

  • a cavity that extends into the root canal space
  • a hairline fracture that extends into the root canal space
  • resorption of the tooth structure near the root canal space
  • insufficient tooth structure to restore the tooth adequately (thus allowing for a post to reinforce the head of the tooth)

Root canal treatment may involve one or more dental visits. Your dentist will perform the necessary steps to save your tooth:

  1. First, your tooth is numbed for your comfort. A thin sheet of latex rubber is placed over your tooth to keep it isolated & dry. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
  2. The tooth’s nerve and other biologic tissue or pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and root canal (the space inside the root). Each root canal is cleaned and shaped so it can be filled.
  3. Your dentist may place medicine in the pulp chamber and root canal to help rid it of bacteria.
  4. The root canal(s) are usually filled with a rubber-like material to seal them.
  5. A temporary filling is then placed in the tooth to prevent contamination of the root canals. You might be given antibiotics if the infection has spread beyond the end of the root(s).
  6. During the next stage of treatment, the dentist removes the temporary filling and restores the tooth with a crown or a filling to strengthen it and improve the way it looks.

How long will the restored tooth last?

When properly restored, a tooth with a root canal filling can last for many years. But, like any other tooth, it can become decayed or fractured or the tissue around it can get gum disease. Daily cleanings and regular dental exams will help keep your mouth healthy, whether you’ve had a root canal treatment or not.

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