Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is the process of removing infected, injured or dead pulp from your tooth. The space inside the hard layers of each tooth is called the root canal system. This system is filled with soft dental pulp made up of nerves and blood vessels that help your tooth grow and develop.

A healthy tooth.

When bacteria (germs) enter your tooth through deep cavities, cracks or flawed fillings, your tooth can become abscessed. An abscessed tooth is a tooth with an infection in the pulp. If pulp becomes infected, it needs to be removed. An abscessed tooth may cause pain and/or swelling. Your dentist may notice the infection from a dental x-ray or from other changes with the tooth. If left untreated, an abscessed tooth can cause serious oral health problems.


An abscessed tooth.

How is a root canal treatment done?

  1. The dentist gives you a local anesthetic (freezing).
  2. To protect your tooth from bacteria in your saliva during the treatment, the dentist places a rubber dam around the tooth being treated.
  3. The dentist makes an opening in the tooth to reach the root canal system and the damaged pulp.
  4. Using very fine dental instruments, the dentist removes the pulp by cleaning and enlarging the root canal system.
  5. After the canal has been cleaned, the dentist fills and seals the canal.
  6. The opening of the tooth is then sealed with either a temporary or permanent filling.

The damaged pulp is removed.

 

The root canals are filled and sealed.

Tooth restoration after root canal treatment

After a root canal treatment, your tooth has to be restored (fixed) to look, feel and work as much like a natural tooth as possible. If an endodontist performed your root canal treatment, he or she will fill the opening of the tooth with a temporary filling and send you back to your dentist or prosthodontist for tooth restoration.

A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who restores and replaces teeth using crowns, bridges, dentures and implants. Your dentist or specialist may use a permanent filling or a crown to restore your tooth. The choice of restoration will depend on the strength of the part of the tooth that's left. A back tooth will likely need a crown because chewing puts a great deal of force on back teeth. If there is not enough of the tooth left, posts may be used to help support the crown.

The tooth is prepared for a crown.
Posts are used to help support the crown.

 

The crown is cemented into place.

Content  courtesy of the Canadian Dental Association.  The content was posted on 22.10.2012

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