Your tooth consists of two main parts: the crown (the part of the tooth above the gum and visible in your mouth) and the root (the part of the tooth that lies beneath the gum and is surrounded by bone). Inside each root is a channel that runs the length of the tooth. This channel is the root canal and contains the “pulp” (nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissue) of the tooth.
The pulp may be irreversibly damaged by bacteria associated with decay, very deep restorations, fractures, trauma, or gum disease. In order to preserve a tooth in which this has occurred, it is necessary to remove the diseased pulp tissue first. This procedure is known as endodontic therapy or root canal treatment. It is advisable to remove the injured pulp because it may become infected or act as an irritant to the tissues surrounding the tooth.
At Progressive Endodontics, your treatment plan begins with a diagnostic examination by one of our doctors to determine if root canal treatment is the most viable option for saving the tooth. After the determination is made, the injured pulp is removed and the root canal system is thoroughly cleaned and filled. New technologies allow us to perform a vast majority of root canal treatments in a single visit. However, for a small percentage of cases a second visit may be needed.
After treatment is complete, it is important for patients to contact their general dentist for a follow-up restoration appointment.
The endodontist examines your tooth before administering local anesthesia. After the tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to keep it sterile and isolated from saliva during the procedure.
After making an opening in the crown of the tooth, very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the chamber and the root canals, and to shape the space for filling.
Once the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like substance called “gutta-percha.” Gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.
After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.
Root canal treatment can relieve your tooth pain and save your smile.
Sometimes new problems can jeopardize a tooth and retreatment may be needed.
When a nonsurgical root canal procedure alone cannot save your tooth, surgery may be needed.