A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected.
Root canal treatment (RCT) and endodontic treatment are the more correct terms for a procedure that treats the nerve of the tooth.
When the pulp is diseased or injured and cannot repair itself, it dies. The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. Both of these problems can let bacteria enter the pulp, causing an infection inside the tooth.
Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip in the jawbone forming a "pus-pocket" called an abscess. An abscess can cause damage to the bone around the teeth. When the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result
Your dentist will take an x-ray to determine the extent of the infection.
- The first step in the actual procedure is a local anesthetic to numb the area and prevent teeth pain during the procedure.
- Next, your dentist or endodontist will drill an access hole into the tooth and use special tools to remove the damaged nerve and pulp tissue.
- Once the infected material is removed, your dentist will either seal the tooth on the same day, or put in a temporary filling to protect you from root canal pain until a customized crown is ready.
- A crown, filling, or other completes the process of relieving your root canal pain. In some cases, your dentist may leave the tooth open so additional material can drain out of the tooth before it is filled and sealed. Some dentists will put a temporary filling in the tooth to protect the area while the infected material drains away completely
The dentist and endodontist are very valuable in helping maintain perspective regarding the condition of a tooth and the likelihood for success with different treatment options.