In the past there was only one way to help a patient with decaying teeth; that was by extracting them. This was supposed to prevent further tooth decay. Advancements in dentistry have made it possible to only remove the decaying part of the tooth without losing the entire tooth. A root canal involves removing the root pulp, cleaning, disinfecting, then sealing the exposed area. It gets its name from the fact that it is the root canals of the teeth that are being cleaned.
Common causes of damage to the tooth pulp are injury, excessive treatment to the same area, decay, and a broken tooth.
Root Canal Procedure
To determine the extent of damage to the infected tooth, a dentist takes an X-ray. The mouth is then numbed using local anesthesia to prevent pain to the patient. Next, the dentist sets the tooth apart by placing a dam on the tooth. This is to keep it free from saliva. The dentist then performs a pulpectomy. This is a procedure that involves the removal of the infected pulp. This is done by drilling a hole through the back of a front tooth, or the crown of a molar or premolar. Once this is done the cavity is disinfected and shaped for filling.
The treatment usually requires more than a single dental visit. Because of this, a temporary filling is inserted into the cavity to protect it. In the following visits the permanent filling, called gutta percha is inserted, followed by a cement to seal the opening permanently. Depending on the size of the cavity, a rod is placed within it to give it support. To complete the procedure, a crown is prepared and fixed on the tooth. This is so as to give the tooth it’s structure back. If a significant part of the tooth is missing, then a post is used to rebuild it before inserting the crown.