A root canal treatment is medically known in the dentistry field as a type of endodontic treatment. Here’s the etymology of the term: “Endo” is the Grecian word for “inside” while “odont” is the Grecian word for “tooth”. In other words, it’s a treatment dealing with the inside of your tooth, specifically the tooth root and pulp.
Whenever the soft tissue inside the root canal or the pulp becomes infected or inflamed, a deep throbbing pain will shoot up from your tooth. This inflammation or infection can be caused by a cracked or chipped tooth, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or deep decay. You need endodontic treatment as soon as your tooth root’s pulp becomes a source of constant dental suffering.
When Would You Need an Endodontic Procedure?
You know you need a root canal treatment if there’s tenderness in the lymph nodes, sensitivity to touch, tooth discoloration, swelling, drainage, and pain when the tooth is in contact with hot or cold substances. Even if the tooth has no visible cracks or chips, an injury to the tooth from severe tooth decay might still result in pulp damage from within.
If the pulp infection or inflammation is left untreated for a long enough period of time, it could lead to an abscessed tooth (an infection that reaches all the way between the gun and the roots of a tooth). An endodontic operation can save the tooth by removing the infected pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing the space with an inert filling (such as gutta-percha).
Step-by-Step Endodontic Procedure
Here are the steps required to do a complete endodontic treatment. This process can be performed in one or two visits.
- Examination: The endodontic dentist responsible for the operation first x-rays the tooth. From there, local anesthetic is administered to the patient. Once the tooth is numb or has no feeling, a dental dam or protective sheet is covered over the inside of the mouth to isolate the affected tooth while keeping it completely clean and saliva-free during the procedure itself.
- Opening: The endodontist then makes an opening in the tooth’s crown using a dental drill. The tiniest of instruments are then utilized for the sake of pulp cleanup so that the pulp chamber and root canal are completely empty and ready for sealing with the aforementioned inert filling.
- Filling: The inert filling is typically a rubbery or rubber-like material that’s biocompatible with the now-empty tooth without a tooth root and pulp. This gutta-percha filling is placed into the affected tooth with adhesive cement. This ensures the complete sealing of the root canals.
- Restoration: After the filling is applied, the opening is then closed with a temporary filling that will be removed later. Your final visit with your endodontic specialist will involve having a new crown or other restorative dental device placed onto the drilled crown of your tooth in order to restore it to perfect functionality.
If the tooth in question has been damaged significantly such that there’s no sufficient structure to hold your restoration in place, then your endodontist or dentist might place a post inside the tooth that will then anchor the restorative crown afterwards.
Otherwise, you can go with a tooth extraction, then a dental implant instead, if even the remains of your tooth that’s connected to the gums and jawbone aren’t enough to keep the crown affixed into your mouth.
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