What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment usually involves the removal of
the tooth's pulp, a small thread-like tissue that was
important for tooth development. The pulp is a soft
tissue that contains the blood vessels, nerves and connective
tissue of the tooth. It lies in the canal that runs
through the center of the dentin-- the hard tissue on
the inside of the tooth that supports the outer layer
of the tooth enamel. The crown (the portion of the tooth
visible above the gums) contains the pulp chamber. The
pulp extends from the chamber down through the root
canal to the tip of the root that lies in the bone of
the jaws. Teeth have only one pulp chamber but may have
more than one root in several root canals.
What does root canal treatment
Treatment involves one or more visits. There are several
steps in the process of endodontic treatment that your
general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes
in root canal treatment) will perform. At various stages,
your follow-up will be needed to help ensure a successful
What are the steps in the
process of saving the tooth?
First, local anesthesia is
given so that you will be more comfortable during
treatment. Then, an opening is made through the
crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
- The pulp or its remnants are then removed carefully
from both the pulp chamber and the root canal(s).
The root canal(s) is cleaned and shaped to a form
that can be filled.
- Medication may be put in the pulp chamber and root
canal(s) to help eliminate bacteria.
- A temporary filling will be placed in the crown
opening to prevent saliva from getting into the chamber
and root canal(s). You might also be given antibiotics
if infection is present and has spread beyond the
end of the root(s). If your dentist has prescribed
medication, use it only as directed. If you have any
difficulties with the medication, call your dentist.
It is also important to follow you're dentist's directions
regarding the scheduling of your next dental appointment.
- During the next stage of treatment the temporary
filling is removed. The root canal(s) is filled with
a biocompatible material, usually gutta-percha, and
- In the final step, a crown made of porcelain or
metal alloy is usually placed over the tooth. The
crown covers a tooth to restore it to its normal shape
and size. Its purpose is to strengthen the tooth and
improve its appearance.
*Depending on diagnosis, procedures may be reduced to one appointment
How long will the restored
As long as the root(s) of a treated tooth
is nourished by the tissues around it, your tooth can
remain healthy. However, the tooth could still become
decayed, so good oral hygiene at home and regular dental
exams are necessary to help prevent both tooth decay
and periodontal (gum) disease.
abscessed (infected) tooth caused by tooth decay.
opening is made through the crown of the tooth
into the pulp chamber.
The pulp is removed, and the root canals are cleaned,
enlarged, and shaped.
The root canals are filled.
A metal post may be placed in the root canal for
The pulp chamber is sealed; then the crown of the
tooth is restored.
Root Canal Therapy
If you have had Root Canal Treatment on a tooth,
it is normal to experience soreness upon biting or chewing.
The process of Root Canal Therapy is known to bruise
the ligaments around the roots of the tooth being treated.
This bruising can cause cold sensitivity, and soreness
upon pressure. This is alleviated by taking THREE 200
mg Ibuprofen tablets (Advil) every 4-6 hours. The key
to successfully conquering the discomfort is to not
wait until the pain is present. Consistently take the
Ibuprofen every 4-6 hours for several days. This soreness
can last for approximately 1 week (like any bruise).
If the soreness persists for longer than 1 week, or
if it's noticed mainly in the morning or in the middle
of the night, then you probably are hitting high on
your temporary crown or foundation. If this is the case,
please contact your dentist to schedule an appointment
for adjustments to be made on your temporary. This is
a minor procedure that takes just a few minutes to do.
It is very important that you feel like all of your
teeth come together evenly on both sides of your mouth.
If you feel you are hitting this tooth first, then an
adjustment must be made.