Deep tooth decay or other injury can cause damage to or infection of the tooth pulp. In a root canal, or endodontic treatment, the dentist removes the damaged or infected pulp and replaces it with a special filler, which helps maintain the remaining tooth structure.
Some indications of the need for root canal treatment may be:
- Spontaneous pain or throbbing while biting
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
- Severe decay or an injury that creates an abscess (infection) in the bone
Below are two key considerations regarding a root canal:
- Decay And Infection - If your tooth's nerve chamber becomes infected by decay or damaged by trauma, root canal treatment is often the only way to save your tooth.
- The Nerve Chamber - Inside the hard outer shell of each tooth is a specialized area called the pulp or nerve chamber. The pulp chamber contains a system of blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves - known as the pulp - which enter from the bone through the root canals. This system provides nourishment for the cells within the tooth.
The root canal procedure
A root canal is completed in five steps:
- After the tooth is anaesththetized, an opening is made through the crown into the pulp chamber.
- The length of the root canals is determined.
- Unhealthy pulp is removed, canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped.
- Canals are then filled and sealed. A metal post may be added for structural support or to retain restorative materials.
- The tooth is sealed with a temporary filling. Usually a gold or porcelain crown adds further protection.
The material used to fill your root canal will probably last you a lifetime, but there is a chance that the filling or crown may need to be replaced eventually.