What is a root canal?
“Endo” is the greek word “inside” and “odont” is the greek word for “tooth”. Endodontic treatment involves treating the inside of the tooth where the nerve and blood supply is.
A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures, with over 14 million performed every year. This simple procedure can eliminate pain and save your teeth, to avoid bridges, dentures or implants.
A root canal is performed if the nerve inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This could have variable causes such as a crack, a chip, trauma or if a decay is left untreated. Some signs of pulp damage include intermittent or persistent pain, tenderness in the surrounding gum tissue, trouble chewing on the tooth or temperature sensitivity. In some cases though, there are no symptoms.
During a root canal procedure, after examining the tooth and x-rays, the endodontist places a protective dental dam over the tooth to keep it clean from saliva. He or she then makes a small opening at the top of the tooth and proceeds to use small instruments to remove the nerve and clean the pulp chamber and the canals in the roots. This shapes the space for the filling material. The endodontist then fills the canals that have been cleaned and shaped with a bio-compatible material, usually a rubber-like material, called “gutta percha”.
Modern techniques and anesthetics have come such a long way that nowadays, patients report feeling little to no discomfort during the procedures.