What Is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is the procedure to remove the damaged, diseased or dead nerve and surrounding tissues (dental pulp) inside the core of the tooth in the root canal. Once removed, the remaining space is cleaned, shaped and filled. This procedure seals off the root canal. This prevents any infection. The most common causes of pulp damage or death are:

  • A cracked tooth
  • A deep cavity
  • An injury to a tooth, such as a severe knock to the tooth, either recent or in the past.

Once the pulp is infected or dead, if left untreated, it can lead to a dental infection at the tip of the root and form a dental abcess.. A dental abcess causes destruction of its surrounding jaw bone and can cause pain. Dental abcesses cannot be left untreated as the infection may enter the blood stream and cause major illness.

How is Root Canal treatment done?

Root canal treatment consists of a series of steps that may take place over a number of dental appointments, depending on the situation. These steps are:

  • First, an opening is made through the tooth to reach the dental pulp.
  • After the diseased pulp is removed the chamber and canals that contained it are cleaned, and shaped before being filled and sealed.
  • If more than one dental appointment is needed, a temporary filling or dressing may be placed in the opening between dental visits.
  • Finally, the remainder of the tooth needs to be restored to its original shape and function, usually by a crown being placed over the tooth. In order to determine the status of the root canal, it may be necessary to take a number of radiographs (xrays) of affected teeth throughout the treatment and at follow up.

How Long Will the Restored Tooth Last?

Your restored tooth can last a lifetime with effective daily care. Because tooth decay can still occur in root canal treated teeth, good daily oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are necessary to prevent any further problems.

As there is no longer a pulp keeping the tooth alive, root canal-treated teeth can become brittle and are more prone to fracture. This is an important consideration when deciding whether to crown or fill a tooth after root canal treatment. Your dentist will advise you on the best treatment plan for your particular situation.

© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.  

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Tips for Care After a ROOT CANAL

A treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care. Root canals have a high success rate. Here are a few ways to take care of your teeth after a root canal:

  • Practice good oral hygiene – brush teeth twice a day, and floss at least once. Taking care of your teeth can help prevent future problems.

  • Visit the dentist regularly – cleanings and examinations by dentists and hygienists.

  • Avoid chewing on hard foods – chewing on hard foods such as ice can cause teeth to break, and can harm root canals.

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