Root Canal Treatment

Each tooth is comprised of 3 layers: Enamel, Dentin, and the Nerve. Damage to the nerve of the tooth can cause significant discomfort and pain. A deep cavity, a large filling or a fractured tooth exposing the nerve can trigger this pain. Sometimes the nerve of the tooth dies over a long period of time and bacteria are able to invade the nerve space of the tooth. Once bacteria have penetrated the nerve, an infection can develop. An infected tooth most often presents as pain and can have a ‘fistula’ and/or ‘abscess’ associated. An abscess is a pus-filled sac that can present at the end of a tooth. A fistula is pimple-like lesion that presents in the gum area correlating to the infected tooth.

Once a tooth’s nerve is involved, there are only two options of treatment: i) Extraction of the tooth (tooth is lost) ii) Root Canal Treatment (tooth is saved). Saving the tooth is ideal in most situations. Root canal therapy has become very straightforward and painless since its first inception many years ago. Provided a patient is adequately frozen, having a root canal is pain-free.

During a root canal, a small preparation is made through the top of the tooth to gain access to the nerve canals. Different teeth in the mouth have different numbers of nerve canals. To properly treat an affected tooth, all canals in the tooth must be located, instrumented, and disinfected. Tiny tools are used to clean out the bacteria living in the tooth. A special filling material is then placed in the canal, filling the entire nerve space to the end of the tooth. The access preparation in the top of the tooth is then filled in with normal filling material.

Posterior (back) teeth most often require a crown following a root canal to protect against fracture.

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