The visible part of the tooth is called the crown. Underneath the crown are several structural layers. At the center of each tooth, lies the dental pulp. It’s where vital bundles of nerves that provide sensation and blood vessels to nourish the teeth are located.
Despite the protective outer layers of the teeth, the pulp can still become irritated and infected. Once you start having persistent toothaches, bleeding and sore gums, tooth discoloration, tooth mobility, and sensitivity to heat and cold, you might want to give your dentist a visit. As these symptoms may indicate damage to the pulp, you might need a root canal procedure otherwise referred to as an Endodontic Therapy.
A root canal procedure involves removing the infected or decayed pulp altogether while keeping the tooth’s crown intact. This is done to preserve the structure of the tooth.
How Is a Root Canal Performed?
- Local Anesthesia: The anesthesia is used to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Depending on the extent of infection, the patient may first need to undergo antibiotic treatment in order for the anesthesia to be effective.
- Dental Dam: A dental dam is a tiny sheet of rubber or vinyl that provides a sterile environment to prevent the spread of infection to the rest of the mouth. It blocks all the surrounding teeth.
- Drilling: The dentist will then drill a hole into the tooth in order to access the dead pulp chamber.
- Removal of Tissues and Nerves: The pulp is finally removed from the teeth with the use of special root canal tools. Depending on the extent of damage and infection to the teeth, this may take 30 minutes up to three hours.
- Disinfecting: In order to keep infection from spreading inside the mouth, the inside and outside of the affected tooth is disinfected.
- Inserting Flexible Root Canal Tools: These tools help shape the area for the filling and sealer which will be added later. One more round of disinfection is done during this process.
- Applying Filling: Gutta-Percha, a rubber-like, thermoplastic filling material is applied on the root canals and are set in place using adhesive. Further assessment is done and the patient will be instructed.