There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming infected as well. Either your dentist or an endodontist can remove any infection by performing a root canal procedure. After the canals are cleaned and filled, the tooth then receives either a filling or crown.
If your tooth is infected or there is severe damage to the pulp, a root canal may be recommended. Pain in the tooth is the most common and obvious symptom. The most common cause of an infection is an untreated cavity. The pulp inside the tooth can become inflamed as a result of trauma or extensive restorative work. It can even be affected by a series of fillings being applied in a short period of time. This inflammation usually leads to infection.
Depending on the number of teeth and the severity of the infection, root canals usually require one to two visits. Your dentist or endodontist will numb the area around the affected tooth or may offer you the option of mild sedation. The pulp area is accessed by drilling through either the top or the back of the tooth. The actual root canals are measured after some of the pulp has been removed. By doing so the dentist can clean the entire canal and determine how much filling material will be needed. The actual measuring is done with either X-rays or electronic imaging devices.
All of the diseased pulp in the tooth is then removed and the canal is cleaned thoroughly with an antiseptic solution. The solution will clean all of the canals within the tooth. The canals are then filled with gutta percha, a flexible plastic material. A temporary filling is then set, but a crown or permanent filling will be placed when there is no sign of infection. Crowns are most common since the root canal procedure weakens the tooth. The crown is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.
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