Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment involves the removal of the nerve within the tooth. The nerve tissue typically has become inflammed or necrotic (infected) causing discomfort for the patient. The nerve within a tooth can become inflammed or necrotic due to a variety of reasons. Most commonly large cavities, heavily restored teeth where the filling is close to the nerve, or cracked teeth where the crack is close to the nerve will necessitate root canal treatment. Once the nerve has been removed the discomfort from the inflammed or necrotic nerve tissue will subside. The space within the tooth where the nerve resided is called the root canal system. It is shaped and cleaned allowing for the placement of a filling material called gutta percha. The gutta percha is coated with a sealer material which seals the roots and keeps the tooth from becoming infected in the future. If root canal treatment is not provided the necrotic (infected) nerve tissue will cause an infection in the surrounding bone around the tooth leading to facial swelling and discomfort. In some cases the tooth cannot be kept and has to be extracted.

What are the signs that a root canal is needed?

  • Severe tooth pain while chewing
  • Your tooth pain wakes you up at night
  • Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time.
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
  • Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth
  • Spontaneous pain that will not subside


What does the treatment involve?

First, after your tooth has been anaesthetized an opening is made into the pulp chamber through the crown of the tooth. Once the nerve is removed from the pulp chamber and each individual root, the root canal system within the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, shaped and filled with gutta percha. Occassionally root canal treatment needs to be completed in multiple visits. If so, a temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth. When you return, I will remove the temporary filling, re-clean the root canal system and place the gutta percha. After root canal treatment a permanent filling is placed and in cases where large amounts of tooth structure have been removed the placement of a crown is required to prevent further fracturing of tooth structure.

Root canal treatment has a high rate of success and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime. Additionally, the crown or filling placed at the completion of the procedure makes it hard to notice by others that you had the treatment.

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