A root canal is a procedure that removes the damaged, infected or dead pulp inside one of your teeth. It is frequently used to save the core structure of a tooth without having to resort to a tooth extraction. New technology has made root canals easier to perform for the dentist and more pain-free for the patient.
The pulp is located inside your tooth. It contains arteries, veins and sensitive nerves. When it becomes diseased through decay or injured due to a broken tooth, the pulp tissue itself can die. This may lead to an abscessed tooth which can be quite painful. Left untreated the area will become infected and can lead to greater health problems for you. A root canal that removes the damaged or diseased pulp is an effective procedure to save the tooth.
If the pulp in any of your teeth is damaged, you will usually need to find an endodontist to perform a root canal. The endodontist will make a small hole in your tooth to expose the pulp. A series of small files are used to clean out the area known as the canal. Some endodontists use conventional files to clean the canals using an action similar to that of winding a watch. Newer technologies involve using a rotary file system and a hand piece to speed up this procedure so that it may be performed in one visit. The files actually spin inside the canal to clean out the area faster, and can twist in ways the conventional files cannot. After the dead material is extracted the dentist will reshape the canal and fill it with a material designed to prevent recontamination.
The tooth may need to be rebuilt and restored after completing the root canal. Depending on the extent of damage and condition of the tooth, you may need to locate an oral surgeon or general dentist for this part of the process. If there is little tooth material left, the dentist may insert a post to help rebuild it. The tooth may then be restored and strengthened by placing a crown over it.
ChooseYourDentist.com is your go-to source for dental information and dental education. If you need a root canal, use our dental profiles to help find an endodontist who can help because ChooseYourDentist.com is "where patients and dentists meet."