A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it. The procedure involves removing the damaged area of the tooth (the pulp) and cleaning and disinfecting it, then filling and sealing it. The common causes affecting the pulp are a cracked tooth, a deep cavity, repeated dental treatment to the tooth or trauma to it. The term “root canal” comes from cleaning of the canals inside the tooth’s root.
Decades ago, root canal treatments were painful. With dental advances and local anesthetics, most people have little if any pain with a root canal today.
What Happens during the Procedure?
During a root canal, the tooth is anesthetized in the same manner as when a cavity is filled. The anesthetization means that the root canal procedure should be painless. The decay, the inflamed and infected pulp and any other nerve tissue located in the tooth’s roots are removed, and the tooth is prepared to be filled. The filling acts as a sealant to completely block the entire root structure and prevent oral fluids from reaching the tooth and reinfecting the tooth’s internal structure.
Although the roots and nerve chamber are sealed by the procedure, the tooth remains severely weakened and requires a core buildup and crown to protect its remaining walls. The filling core and crown act as a protective cover. They protect the tooth from further damage and help restore proper chewing function. Occasionally, if the decay or infection is minor, a crown is not required. In this instance, a core buildup is all that is necessary as a final restoration. Depending on the extent of the damage, the root canal may take one or more visits.
Once the entire root canal and final restoration have been finished, Dr. Straka will typically schedule a follow-up visit after 6 months to check for complete healing around the bone surrounding the tooth.