Root Canal Therapy

We’ve all cringed at hearing those dreaded words at the dentist: “You need a root canal.” Every cartoon and family tale has led us to believe that we are in for a world of pain and several days back in the dental chair. However, that is simply not true! Root canals are a common procedure at the dentist’s office, and can be as routine as having a cavity filled.

Inside the roots of our teeth is a soft tissue called pulp. A root canal is necessary when a large cavity has damaged this tissue and the root of the tooth, resulting in an abscess of the bone surrounding the tooth. This infection can be extremely painful, but can be fixed.

As with a normal cavity, the dentist starts by drilling out the decayed material. She then continues creating an opening that reaches through the entire pulp chamber to the location of the abscess. After the entirety of the infected material is accessible, special tools are used to remove the infection, including the unhealthy pulp. Then the work to shape and fill the damaged tooth begins. Using irrigation to eliminate any loose debris, the canals are properly shaped to house the filling material. A permanent, rubber-like substance, called gutta-percha, is used to fill the canals to stop any contamination or further infection. Then the rest of the tooth is treated with a permanent filling or, in some cases, a crown in needed to cap the tooth. The crown is cemented into place, after being properly fitted, to ensure its longevity.

Root canal procedures can usually be completed in one or two appointments, resulting in a functional tooth and complete smile. Most patients are amazed at how easy the procedure was compared to what they were anticipating. The most painful aspect of a root canal is actually not the procedure at all! The infection, which is the reason for the dental appointment in the first place, is easily the most painful part. No need to worry though, a quick root canal can eliminate that pain.

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