As a root canal dentist, we can save your infected tooth. The term root canal, contrary to popular belief, does not refer exclusively to the surgery that so many patients have come to associate with dentistry. The discomfort that an infected root can cause, and the frequency with which many dentists perform the procedure has made a root canal surgery the most commonly perform procedure in America. The root canal is actually the area that houses the root, on the inside of the tooth itself. The pulp and pulp canal is also found in the root canal, and is the soft tissue that surrounds the root. When either the root of the tooth or the dental pulp becomes infected due to a bacteria, decay or some kind of trauma, it can cause extreme discomfort for the patient. This requires the intervention of a dentist, who will then perform a surgery that has come to be known as a “root canal” surgery.
A root canal is the process of removing the infected root, cleaning out all the pulp, and filling the cavity to make sure it cannot be re-infected. A root canal typically starts with an x-ray which will tell us what the shape of the tooth’s root is and will allow us to identify if there is an infection that needs to be treated. If we find that there is an infection, chances are that you will be put on a course of antibiotics to kill it before starting the process of the root canal, or in some cases you will start the antibiotics immediately afterwards. Before removing the infected area, we will give you a local anesthesia so that you are as comfortable as possible and feel as little as possible. Our goal is to ensure your comfort and this is the best way to do so.
As a root canal dentist, we will place a rubber dam around the tooth to keep it free of saliva and completely dry. A dam is basically a rubber sheet that is placed over the tooth. Next, a small access hole will be drilled into the tooth, giving us access to the root and the pulp. We will then use dental files, in increasing diameter, to work down the hole and scrape away any infected pulp left along the sides. Simultaneously we will flush away debris with water or sodium hypochlorite. After the tooth is cleaned to our satisfaction, we will seal it and prepare it for any additional restorations that may be required. Sometimes, depending on the state of the root canal, we may place medication inside of the canal and wait for a couple of days before sealing up the tooth.
Finally, a sealer paste and a rubber compound, called Gutta Percha is placed into the cavity. The exterior hole, which was made to give the dentist access to the root canal, is filled with a regular filling. Often, as a root canal dentist, we will give you an additional course of antibiotics to make sure that no other infections affect the tooth while it is healing.