The very inner layer of a tooth, past the hard layers of enamel and dentin, is a soft tissue known as the pulp. It is made of connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels, and it’s the part of the tooth that connects to your body, bringing the tooth nutrients and allowing it to develop into an adult tooth.
Allowing tooth decay to progress into the layer of pulp will most likely cause the pulp to become infected and inflamed, often causing severe pain in the tooth as the blood vessels and nerves are squeezed by the inflammation. If quick action is not taken, tooth extraction may be necessary meaning you will have to find a clinic that does affordable dental implants to restore your smile back to its natural look. It doesn’t have to get to this, however.
Instead of extracting your tooth, you can save the natural one by getting root canal treatment, leaving your natural smile intact.
How Does Root Canal Treatment Work?
Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is usually performed by an endodontist who removes the infected pulp from the inside of the tooth. Once removed, the endodontist will thoroughly clean inside of the tooth making sure to remove anything that can cause further infection. The hollow part of the tooth is then filled with a bio-compatible material, saving the natural tooth and jaw structure.
Given advances in modern technology, this has become a painless procedure, similar to that of having fillings or dental crowns placed. There may be some sensitivity in the area after the procedure, however, this shouldn’t last more than a few days.
Root Canal Procedure
Now that you understand the basic concept of a root canal treatment, we will give a step-by-step explanation of the root canal procedure, as described by the American Association of Endodontists:
- Examination of tooth – the first step requires the endodontist to x-ray your mouth in order to determine which tooth has infected pulp.
- Numbing – to make the procedure as painless and comfortable as possible, the endodontist will then carefully administer local anesthetic to numb the area surrounding the infected tooth.
- Dental dam placement – a rubber barrier, known as a dental dam, is placed around the tooth to prevent saliva and bacteria from obstructing with the procedure.
- Incision – the endodontist then cuts an opening in the top of the tooth so that they can remove the infected pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals.
- Shaping the chamber – the hollow pulp chamber and root canals are then disinfected and shaped so that the filling can be placed.
- Filling the root canal – the endodontist then uses a bio-compatible material to fill the root canals and seals it with an adhesive cement. The bio-compatible material used is usually gutta-percha which is a rubbery substance.
Once the root canal procedure is complete, you must return to your dentist or visit a prosthodontist to have a crown placed on top of the fixed tooth in order to return full functionality to your mouth.