Endodontists Put Root Canal Patients at Ease
Watch interviews with root canal patients describing their positive, pain-free experiences, while endodontists explain what a root canal is and symptoms you may have if you need one.
Endodontists: Partners in Patient Care
Learn as endodontists detail the positive relationships they have with their referring general practitioners and a general dentist talks about the importance of knowing his limitations.
Every tooth consists of three different layers. The outermost and hardest layer is enamel, and the second layer is dentin. The third is pulp, which is the cavernous space where the live tissue and nerve of each tooth is located.
If for any reason the pulp space is exposed to the outside, the tissue becomes contaminated and eventually infected. The exposure of pulp happens in many circumstances, such as when you have a large cavity or a fractured tooth.
Your dentist can explain the exact reason for damage to this tissue. In these cases, the treatment is usually root canal treatment.
Root canal treatment is the process of going inside the pulp space and removing the infected, dead tissue. The space is then disinfected and sealed with special materials. Nowadays, root canal treatments are performed with advanced techniques and materials, making them far more comfortable and faster. After root canal treatment is complete, your restorative dentist will usually place a crown on your tooth to safeguard against fracture.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
Root canal or endodontic treatment—treatment done to the inside of the tooth—is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
During root canal or endodontic treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last as long as any other tooth in oral cavity.
Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:
1. The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
2. The endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.
3. After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.
4. After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.
If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside the tooth. Ask your dentist or endodontist for more details about the specific restoration planned for your tooth.