Root Canal Therapy

What is a root canal?root canal

Root canal therapy is a treatment used to save a tooth when the tissue, blood vessels and nerves inside of a tooth have become inflamed.  This can be due to physical trauma to the tooth, cracked or fractured teeth, extensive caries, or failure of a previous root canal.

Procedure

In order to save the tooth and remove the pain, the dentist will need to remove infected and diseased tissue to help clean out the infected area. This is done with files of increasing size in order to clean and shape the entire canal.  The canal inside is then medicated to allow the surrounding area to heal.  Finally, the canal is sealed with a material called gutta percha to prevent any bacteria from entering into the tooth.

Reasons a root canal may be performed

  • Deep decay
  • Infections at the tip of the root or inside the tooth canal
  • Cracked, broken or injured teeth

Generally, but not always, a crown will need to be placed after the root canal treatment is complete in order to protect the tooth from any further damage. Sensitivity after the procedure is generally experienced by many patients and subside when the tooth has healed. When your treatment has been completed, your dentist will provide you with special instructions on how to care for your newly treated tooth.

Do I need a crown?

Typically a root canal is needed because a large portion of the tooth is diseased causing irritation of the pulp.  Once the canals are accessed and the infected portion of the tooth removed, there is less natural tooth structure remaining.  In addition the blood supply to the tooth is removed with the nerve, resulting in a more brittle tooth.  While bonding materials are strong, they cannot correct for missing such a large portion of the tooth.  A crown or onlay is recommended in most cases and will help protect the tooth from future damage.