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Root Canals

 
 

What is it?

There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming infected as well. Either your dentist or an endodontist to remove any infection performs the root canal procedure. The canals are cleaned and then filled and the tooth receives either a filling or a crown.

Many of us have heard the comparisons of painful things to the root canal procedure. It's not that bad. There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming diseased. Either your dentist or an endodontist to remove any infection performs the root canal procedure.

The canals are then filled and the tooth receives either a filling or a crown. Crowns are more common in most cases as they add strength to the tooth itself.  The procedure itself takes one to two visits.

If your tooth is infected or there's severe damage to the pulp, a root canal will be recommended. An untreated cavity is the most common cause for this infection. The pulp inside the tooth can become inflamed from trauma or extensive restorative work. It can even be affected from a series of fillings being applied in a short period of time. This inflammation usually leads to infection. Pain in the tooth is the most common and obvious symptom.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Root Canals

Advantage: Pain is always associated with root canals, but should actually be little to no pain during the procedure. The procedure is not for cosmetics, but rather your health. The infect will only get worse with time if left untreated. The root canal procedure is successful over 92 percent of the time. The biggest advantage is that the tooth will not need to be extracted in the future.

Disadvantage: Not often, but sometimes infected tissue is pushed through the ends of the root, which will infect the gum. This is easily treated, but is also painful until the infection is cleared up. Canals are irregularly shaped, and if the canal is not accurately measured or branches of the canal were not discovered, it cannot be completely cleaned or filled requiring the procedure to be done again when this area becomes infected.

The Procedure

Depending on the number of teeth and severity affected, root canals usually require one to two visits not including any follow-up visits. Your dentist or Endodontist will numb the area around the affected tooth, or may offer you the option of mild sedation. A rubber dental dam is placed and the tooth is then drilled to the pulp area either through the top or the back of the tooth. The actual root canals are measured after some of the pulp has been removed. This is done so that the dentist can clean the entire canal, and so that enough of the filling material will be used to completely fill the canal. The actual measuring is done with either x-rays or electronic imaging devices.

All of the diseased pulp in the tooth is removed, and the canal is cleaned out thoroughly with an antiseptic solution. This solution will clean all of the canals within the tooth. The canals are then filled with gutta percha, a flexible plastic material. A temporary filling is then put on top of that. A crown or permanent filling will be done after there has been no sign of infection. Crowns are most common since the root canal procedure weakens the tooth. The crown is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.

Expect two to three days of soreness after the procedure, or longer if the infection in the root canal was severe.

Types of Root Canals

There are generally two types of root canal procedures. The first (and hopefully only) root canal on a tooth, and the second root canal on the same tooth. Both procedures are the same, other than that if this is the second root canal done on the same tooth it requires more time and expense. This is because your dentist must remove all of the previous filling in the canal and pulp area in order to start again.

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