Root canal treatment (endodontic therapy) is a procedure that is used to save a damaged or infected tooth. This treatment is performed by a dentist or endodontist and involves removing the damaged or infected tissue inside the tooth (the pulp) and cleaning, shaping and sealing the inside of the tooth to prevent further infection or damage.
The pulp of a tooth is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. It extends from the crown of the tooth to the end of the root. When the pulp is damaged, infected or inflamed, it can cause significant pain and lead to an abscess (a pocket of pus) if left untreated.
The steps involved in a root canal treatment are as follows:
Anesthesia: The dentist will numb the affected area using a local anesthetic to ensure that the patient does not feel any pain during the procedure.
Access: The dentist will create an opening in the top of the tooth to access the pulp.
Cleaning: The dentist will remove the damaged or infected pulp using special instruments and clean the inside of the tooth to remove any debris.
Shaping: The dentist will reshape the inside of the tooth to make room for a filling material.
Filling: The dentist will fill the inside of the tooth with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha.
Sealing: The dentist will place a temporary filling or seal the opening to protect the tooth until the permanent restoration can be placed.
Permanent restoration: A permanent crown or filling is placed over the tooth to protect it and restore its function.
After the root canal treatment, patients may experience some mild pain, swelling, or discomfort. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. The dentist will provide instructions on how to care for the tooth and what to expect during the healing process.
Root canal treatment is a safe and effective way to save a damaged or infected tooth. With proper care, a tooth that has had a root canal treatment can last a lifetime. If you have a damaged or infected tooth, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent the spread of infection and to avoid the need for more extensive treatment.