Cavities are small holes that form in the teeth as a result of bacteria attacking the teeth enamel. Usually, a cavity is treated with a dental filling, which removes the decay and builds up the tooth structure again with a biocompatible material. However, if the decay has gotten too deep in the tooth, it begins to threaten the dental pulp. This soft core of the tooth contains the blood vessels and nerves. If the decay reaches the pulp, an abscess could form. To prevent this from happening, a root canal treatment will be necessary.
At our office, we perform root canals to restore the tooth to health, avoiding the need for an extraction. Besides tooth decay, teeth can also become vulnerable as a result of an injury, such as a fracture or crack. Repeated dental procedures on one area could also disturb the tissue.
Many people are apprehensive about getting a root canal done because they believe that it is a painful procedure. The fact is, not getting the tooth treated can be even more painful and uncomfortable. Because a root canal is performed using anesthesia, patients are usually comfortable throughout the entire procedure. Treating the root canal not only alleviates pain, but it also preserves the integrity of the tooth, and saving a natural tooth is always preferable to replacing it with a dental prosthetic.
At our office, before beginning the procedure for a root canal, we will take x-rays to view the tooth, its roots, and the surrounding bone. This gives us a better idea of where the decay is located. An anesthetic will be administered to numb the site and minimize pain. A sheet of latex rubber called a dental dam will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and clean during the procedure; the reason for this is not only to make the procedure go more smoothly, but to protect the tooth from possible viruses and bacteria that can be found in the mouth. A hole will be created in the top of the tooth (the crown) to access the pulp and remove it. Any other decay in the tooth will also be removed, and the inside of the tooth will be cleaned and reshaped. This discourages the regrowth of bacteria inside the tooth. The tooth will then be filled with a biocompatible filling material to restore its structural integrity and function. It will be sealed and, in most cases, topped with a crown (a separate appointment will be needed to have a permanent crown placed).