Root Canal (Endodontics)
At the center of a tooth is pulp. Pulp is a collection of nerves and blood vessels that aid in the formation of the tooth. A Endodontics is the dental specialty that deals with the nerves of the teeth. Root canals are probably the most notorious procedure in dentistry and the most common procedure relating to endodontics. When a tooth becomes infected it is usually related to the nerves in the root of the tooth. The infected nerves need to be removed. If left untreated an infection can turn into an abscess, which is a much more serious problem that includes bone loss in the jaw.
The area around the tooth is numbed with a local anesthetic to start the procedure. The dentist will then drill down into the tooth to create an opening into the canal. They will then be able to remove infected tissue and clean the canal. After the infection has been removed, the space if filled with a sealant called gutta percha. It is highly recommended that a tooth that has undergone a root canal is fitted with a crown. This will improve the appearance of the tooth, and will also make it much more likely that the root canal is successful.
“Root canal” has become a scary term for dental patients to hear, but the benefits of the procedure and advances in dental technology have made it much less “scary”. Local anesthetics and proper pain medication allow the procedure to be performed with little to no pain in most cases. There may be some soreness following the procedure, but that is normal for most dental procedures. Over the counter painkillers are usually enough to relieve any pain afterwards, but your dentist may prescribe medication. The procedure will also relieve you from pain caused by the infection allowing you to enjoy all the foods you love without any pain from heat, cold, or biting too hard. If you are experiencing pain consult your dentist today.
How Is A Root Canal Performed?
The first step of the procedure is to anesthetize the affected area or affected tooth. The next step is to create an opening in the top of the tooth or the biting surface of the tooth. The opening is directed down into the center of the tooth where the pulp is located. From the center of the tooth, the pulp extends downward in the roots of the tooth in canals. Special files are used to clean the infected pulp out of the canals of the tooth. Once each canal is cleaned, it is filled with an inert material called gutta percha that seals the canal. The tooth is now ready for a restoration which is usually a crown. This entire procedure is often completed in two visits.
Apicoectomy / Endodontic Surgery
Sometimes, a root canal procedure by itself is not sufficient to save your tooth. This occurs when inflammation or infection persists in the area around the end of the root of the tooth. At that point in time, a microsurgical procedure may be performed to save your tooth. During the microsurgical procedure, the gum tissue is reflected away from the tooth and the underlying bone. The area of persistent infection and or inflamed tissue is exposed and removed. In addition to removing the inflamed or infected tissue, a small portion at the end of the root of the tooth is removed. Afterward, a small filling may be placed at the end of the tooth. Sutures are then placed in the area to aid in healing. Over the next few months the area is monitored for proper healing.
This microsurgical procedure is performed in office using local anesthetics, and most patients return to normal activities in a few days.