Endodontic Treatment – Root Canal Therapy
When is a root canal necessary?
When the pulp (the soft tissue inside the root canal) of a tooth becomes inflamed or infected, a root canal may be necessary. This inflammation or infection can be caused by decay that has reached the pulp chamber, by trauma or injury to a vital tooth, or when a tooth is fractured. If left untreated, you may experience symptoms associated with a tooth abscess: prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness when chewing, or swelling, throbbing and tenderness in nearby lymph nodes.
What does root canal therapy involve?
In short, a root canal involves removing the inflamed or infected pulp from a tooth’s root canal or canals, and then filling the canal(s) with a material to prevent any future infections from forming. This can usually be done with a local anesthetic and, in most cases, can be completed in one appointment. First, an opening is made through the top of the tooth in order to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber. Then the root canals are shaped and filled with a biocompatible material. When completed, a temporary filling is placed to protect the opening until the tooth can be restored. This short video may help you to visualize the tooth’s anatomy and the steps involved in root canal therapy:
Am I finished?
Not quite. Once a root canal is completed, the tooth will need to be protected with a permanent restoration. In some cases, the restoration is a small filling over the access hole created to perform the root canal. In other cases, a full crown may be necessary to protect the tooth. If a significant portion of the tooth structure has fractured or broken off, or lost due to decay, the tooth may require a post and build up (filling) to restore the shape of the tooth before a crown can be placed.