Endodontics refers to the dental speciality concerned with the study and treatment of the dental pulp. If the dental pulp inside a person’s mouth becomes diseased or injured, endodontic treatment is required to save the tooth or teeth involved.
A root canal is the most common procedure done by an endodontist. A root canal is performed when decay has already killed the tooth or is projected to kill the tooth. A root canal can also be performed for an abscessed tooth that has developed from an infection. This type of procedure is used to relieve tooth ache, stop infection, and promote healing to the infected area.
An endodontist will typically be the one who performs a root canal. A root canal removes the pulp from the center of the tooth and replaces it with a filling material in order to treat a painful infection and prevent it from spreading to other teeth. During the procedure, an endodontist will numb the gums with a jelly like substance. Once the gums are numb, a local anesthetic will be injected to completely numb the teeth, gums, tongue, and skin in the infected area. (For patients who need it, nitrous oxide gas can also be used to help a patient relax.)
The endodontist will separate the decayed tooth from other teeth in the mouth with a small sheet of rubber; it will also protect the surrounding teeth and throat from coming into contact with the filling liquid. A drill and other fine tools will be used to remove the pulp from the tooth and will fill the inside of the tooth below the gum line with medicines to fight the infection, temporary filling materials, and a final root canal filling.
For many people, a permanent crown is needed to cover the treated tooth. A technician who is involved with the procedure will make an impression of the tooth and use it to make a crown to perfectly match the drilled tooth. This crown will help to protect the tooth from breaking easily because once the pulp inside the tooth is removed, the tooth will become more fragile.
If you have an infected or severely decaying tooth, see your endodontist right away. Treating your infection promptly can save you from multiple damaged teeth, and can also stop the infection from spreading into your blood stream and infecting other areas of the body.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Byron Scott, Springhill Dental Health Center
Ever heard someone say they’d rather have a root canal than do something? Popular culture depicts the root canal as one of the most dreadful dental procedures there is. However, it isn’t the procedure that’s painful, but the problems that necessitate having a root canal.
A root canal is needed when a tooth becomes infected or badly decayed down to the nerve and pulp, which is the soft tissue at the core of the tooth. Signs of infection may range from no symptoms at all to a sensitivity to heat and cold to severe pain.
If your dentist or endodontist (a dentist specializing in diseases of the dental pulp) recommends a root canal, the procedure typically involves one to three steps:
X-rays and Preparation – Your dentist will take an x-ray of your tooth to see the extent of the infection. He/she will then numb the affected area to decrease the chance of you feeling any significant pain or discomfort. The dentist will also place a rubber dam around the tooth to keep the area dry and free of saliva during the treatment.
Cleaning and Sealing – Next, the dentist will drill an access hole into the tooth and remove all decayed pulp and nerve tissue, using a file that cleans and scrubs the root canals of the tooth. This can take several hours depending on the extent of the decay. Once the canal is thoroughly clean, the dentist will use a rubber compound to fill the inner canal of the tooth. If the area is badly infected, however, the dentist may choose to wait a week or so until the infection fully clears.
Filling – Since most teeth that need a root canal are usually damaged extensively by decay, further restoration is usually in order. This could involve installation of fillings, crowns or posts.
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