The most commonly performed endodontic procedure is a root canal. The procedure involves treating the dental pulp of the tooth, more commonly known as the tooth’s soft core. The dental pulp is the soft tissue located inside the tooth; extending from the tip of the root, where it connects to surrounding tissue, all the way to the crown of the tooth. The pulp is important to a tooth’s growth and development due to the housing of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue which creates the surrounding hard tissue of the tooth during development. Once the tooth is fully functioning, its nerve is no longer vital to the tooth’s functioning abilities, or to maintaining its sensory functions such as recognizing hot or cold sensations. As a result, the nerve and surrounding tissue are able to safely be removed with surgery to repair and save the tooth from the infected pulp. The matured tooth can then survive without the pulp. The act of saving the natural tooth with a root canal procedure has many advantages, such as:
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensation
- Symptom relief
- Protects surrounding teeth from excessive wear and tear
This procedure works by numbing the tooth so the patient won’t feel any pain or discomfort. A small shield is used to isolate the tooth, keeping it clean and dry. The dentist then makes an opening in the tooth through the crown and into the pulp chamber. Fluid is then put into the canals to help rinse out debris and kill any bacteria. The infected pulp is removed by a special tool, and using small instruments the canals are carefully shaped and cleaned to make room for the temporary root filler and sealant. During the next visit the temporary filling is removed, pulp chamber and root canal are then thoroughly cleaned and filled again. The pulp chamber is typically filled with a bio-compatible, rubber-like material called Gutta-Percha, and then cemented with a sealer paste to the tooth. Once the filling is completed, the dentist will attach the crown, post or other restorative device to conclude the root canal procedure.