Endodontics is the field of dentistry that deals with the internal tissues of the teeth. A root canal procedure is the most common treatment performed by an endodontist. To learn more about root canals, their cost, and alternative treatment options, please read the sections below.
What is a Root Canal? Root canals are the hollow channels reaching from the central chamber to the bottom of the tooth roots. The endodontic root canal treatment is often called by the same name, although endodontists and others in the dental field refer to it as a root canal procedure, therapy, or surgery.
Root Canal Symptoms It is important to visit a dentist who specializes in endodontics when symptoms of a root canal problem first emerge. When one experiences tooth pain or has a deep cavity, the en dodontist may determine that a root canal procedure is necessary. The en dodontist will first take x-rays to find out how close the damage is to the nerve inside the pulp chamber of the tooth. Often, if a cavity is found to be near the pulp, the pulp will have already become infected. In this case a root canal procedure will eliminate the pain and remove any infected tissue. If tooth infection is allowed to continue untreated, the patient may lose the tooth completely, necessitating a dental implant or a dental bridge.
The Root Canal Procedure Root canal treatment starts by cleaning out damaged areas of the tooth. This is generally performed under local anesthetic, so the root canal procedure is generally no more uncomfortable than getting a filling. Once the endodontist has breached the pulp chamber, further anesthetic may be injected directly into the nerve of the tooth. This effectively deadens any further pain. The endodontist removes the tissue within the pulp chamber and clears any remaining nerve tissue from the root canals. Once the dental pulp tissue has been cleared, the dentist widens the root canal slightly and straightens the pulp chamber to prepare it for filling. The inside of the tooth is then disinfected. When the tooth has been properly prepared, the endodontist fills the root canals with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha filling. The pulp chamber is packed with cotton, and a temporary filling is used to seal the opening. During a succeeding visit, your endodontist removes the temporary filling, fills the pulp chamber with a core buildup, and then repairs the tooth with a filling or crown. During this visit, your endodontist will also check for root canal procedure complications such as infection.