Root canal therapy consists of removing the inflamed or infected pulp. The first step is to make an opening in the crown. The dentist then cleans the pulp chamber and root canals. These spaces are later filled with a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha, which acts as a permanent bandage. Finally, restoring the crown of the tooth protects the tooth from further damage or infection. The goals of treatment are to:
- Relieve pain and other symptoms.
- Stop any infection and prevent its spread.
- Save the tooth from having to be extracted.
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Performing Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is done under local anesthetic. (It’s the same kind that’s used when you have a filling.) Therapy is most often completed in one or two visits. Meanwhile, you’ll need to take special care of the tooth until the crown can be restored.
Cleaning and Shaping the Canal
A dental dam (a thin sheet of rubber) is placed around the tooth to protect your mouth and throat. The crown of the tooth is then opened and the pulp is removed. Using small files, the dentist cleans, enlarges and shapes the root canal. Medications may be used to stop infection.
Filling the Canal
The root canal is filled with gutta-percha. This prevents bacteria or fluid from entering the tooth through the roots. The opening in the tooth is then closed with a temporary crown or filling.
Restoring Your Tooth
After root canal therapy, the crown of the tooth must be restored. In most cases, an artificial crown is needed. Therapy is not complete until a permanent filling is in place- so don’t delay longer than your dentist advises.
A permanent Seal
The dentist removes the temporary filling. A permanent filling is then used to seal the tooth. If needed, an artificial crown is placed on top of the filling and around the remaining natural tooth. Crowns can be made of porcelain, gold alloy, or porcelain fused to metal.
If a Post Is Needed
If little is left of the natural crown, a metal or fiber post may be used to help support the permanent filling.