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Root Canals

Careful elimination of infection to protect healthy teeth

For some patients, root canal therapy is one of the most feared dental procedures. You can trust your Dentists at Beautiful Dentistry to handle your root canal with precision and care.

What is a Root Canal?

Root Canals are a sequence of treatment for the pulp of a tooth which results in the elimination of infection and protection of the decontaminated tooth from future microbial invasion. Root canals and their associated pulp chamber are the physical hollows within a tooth that are naturally inhabited by nerve tissue, blood vessels and other cellular entities. A Root Canal involves the removal of these structures, the subsequent cleaning, shaping, and decontamination of the hollows with tiny files and irrigating solutions, and the obturation (filling) of the decontaminated canals with an inert filling such as gutta percha and typically a eugenol-based cement.

What Happens to My Tooth?

Although the procedure is relatively painless when done properly, the Root Canal remains a stereotypically fearsome dental operation. After a Root Canal procedure the tooth will be “dead”, and if an infection spreads at its apex, root end surgery is required.

In the situation that a tooth is considered so threatened (because of decay, cracking, etc.) that future infection is considered likely or inevitable, a pulpectomy, removal of the pulp tissue, is advisable to prevent such infection. Usually, some inflammation and/or infection is already present within or below the tooth. To cure the infection and save the tooth, the dentist drills into the pulp chamber and removes the infected pulp and then drills the nerve out of the root canal(s) with very fine thin precision drills. After this is done, the Dentist fills each of the root canals and the chamber with an inert material, and seals up the opening. With the removal of nerves and blood supply from the tooth, it is best that the tooth be fitted with a crown, which increases the likelihood of the tooth by six times.

The standard filling material is gutta-percha, a natural non-elastic latex from the sap of the percha (Palaquium gutta) tree. The standard endodontic technique involves inserting a gutta-percha cone (a “point”) into the cleaned-out root canal along with cement and a sealer. Gutta-percha is radiopaque, allowing verification afterwards that the root canal passages have been completely filled in, without voids.

For some patients, root canal therapy is one of the most feared dental procedures, perhaps because of a painful abscess that necessitated the root canal procedure. However, dental professionals assert that modern Root Canal Treatment is relatively painless because the pain can be controlled with a local anesthetic during the procedure, and pain control medication can be used before and/or after treatment. However, in some cases it may be very difficult to achieve pain control before performing a root canal.

After Care is Important

After receiving a Root Canal, the tooth should be protected with a crown that covers the cusps of the tooth. Otherwise, over the years the tooth will almost certainly fracture, since root canals remove tooth structure from the tooth and undermine the tooth’s structural integrity. Also, Root Canal teeth tend to be more brittle than teeth not treated with a root canal. This is commonly because the blood supply to the tooth, which nourishes and hydrates the tooth structure, is removed during the root canal procedure, leaving the tooth without a source of moisture replenishment. Placement of a crown or cusp-protecting cast gold covering is recommended also because these have the best ability to seal the Root Canaled tooth. If the tooth is not perfectly sealed the root canal may leak, causing eventual failure of the root canal.

Myths

Many people incorrectly believe once a tooth has had a root canal treatment it cannot get decay. A tooth with a root canal treatment still has the ability to decay, and without proper home care and an adequate fluoride source, the tooth structure can become severely decayed. This degeneration often occurs without the patient’s knowledge, since the nerve has been removed, leaving the tooth without any pain perception. Thus, non-restorable carious destruction is the main reason for extraction of teeth after root canal therapy. Therefore it is very important to have regular X-rays taken of the root canal to ensure that the tooth is not having any problems that the patient would not be aware of.