Root Canal Treatment
When the nerve of your tooth becomes infected, a successful root canal
treatment lets you keep the tooth rather than having to pull it out.
Keeping your tooth helps to prevent your other teeth from drifting out
of line and causing jaw problems. Saving a natural tooth avoids having
to replace it with an artificial tooth.
What is root canal treatment?
How is a root canal treatment done?
How is a tooth restored after root canal treatment?
What else should I know?
What is root canal retreatment?
What is root canal surgery?
What Is Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is the process
of removing infected, injured or dead pulp from your tooth. The space
inside the hard layers of each tooth is called the root canal system.
This system is filled with soft dental pulp made up of nerves and blood
vessels that help your tooth grow and develop.
When bacteria (germs) enter your tooth through deep cavities, cracks or
flawed fillings, your tooth can become abscessed. An abscessed tooth is a
tooth with an infection in the pulp. If pulp becomes infected, it needs
to be removed. An abscessed tooth may cause pain and/or swelling. Your
dentist may notice the infection from a dental x-ray or from other
changes with the tooth. If left untreated, an abscessed tooth can cause
serious oral or systemic health problems.
How Is A Root Canal Treatment Done?
- The dentist gives you a local anesthetic (freezing).
To protect your tooth from bacteria in your saliva during the
treatment, the dentist places a rubber dam around the tooth being
- The dentist makes an opening in the tooth to reach the root canal system and the damaged pulp.
- Using very fine dental instruments, the dentist removes the pulp by cleaning and enlarging the root canal system.
- After the canal has been cleaned, the dentist fills and seals the canal.
- The opening of the tooth is then sealed with either a temporary or permanent filling.
Tooth Restoration After Root Canal Treatment
After a root canal treatment, your tooth has to be restored (fixed) to
look, feel and work as much like a natural tooth as possible.
may use a permanent filling or a crown to restore your tooth. The
choice of restoration will depend on the strength of the part of the
tooth that's left. A back tooth will likely need a crown because chewing
puts a great deal of force on back teeth. If there is not enough of the
tooth left, posts may be used to help support the crown.
What Else Should I Know?
Root canal treatment may be done in 1 or 2 appointments. After root
canal treatment, your tooth may be tender for the first week or two. Bad
pain or swelling are NOT common. If this happens, call your dentist.
You can still get a cavity or gum disease after a root canal treatment.
Root canal treatment does not protect your tooth from other types of
damage. With proper care and regular dental visits, the tooth could last
as long as your other teeth. Most of the time, a tooth that has had a
root canal treatment can be saved. However, there are cases where
everything possible has been done to save a tooth and still the tooth
must be extracted.
Root Canal Retreatment
Most root canal treatments are successful. But in some rare cases, a
second root canal treatment is needed. This is called retreatment. When
retreating a tooth, the root canal filling material is taken out, and
the canal is recleaned, reshaped and refilled.
Root Canal Surgery
Sometimes root canal surgery is needed when a regular root canal
treatment cannot be done or when it has not worked. Surgery is done to:
- Check the end of the root for fractures (cracks).
- Remove parts of the root that could not be cleaned during regular root canal treatment.
- Clear up an infection that did not heal after regular treatment.
Source: Canadian Dental Association