The Root Canal Process?

Having a tooth that needs to undergo the root canal process

or endodontic therapy, is one of the most feared and misinterpreted situations in dentistry. The Root Canal Process is probably the procedure most emotionally discussed between individuals as a method of commiserating painful circumstances with each other.

Every work place seems to have someone who has or knows someone with a gruesome story about this notorious procedure. These tales are like the ones that describe a fish that grows larger each time its catch is relayed. Everytime people mention a tooth having a nerve treatment, the experience grows more intolerable. Fortunately for mankind and dentistry, these yarns are very often blown out of proportion.

Modern dental medications, technologies and techniques have the ability to take this feared procedure and make it as easy as having a routine filling.

What is a root canal?

This procedure involves accessing the interior chamber of the tooth. (nerve chamber) Once in the interior of the tooth, the nerve chamber is cleaned, shaped and irrigated before being filled. The filling seals the inside of the tooth and signifies the end of the living tissue residing in the treated tooth.

Why would someone need Endodontic therapy?

1. To save an infected tooth (once a tooth is abscessed, bacteria is in the nerve. The only 2 choices at this time are to remove the tooth or to remove the nerve.) Root Canal alternatives are limited.

2. To save a broken tooth. (a broken tooth with compromised tooth structure, undergoes the root canal process so that posts can be placed in the root system adding retention and surface area to the weakend tooth.

3. Tooth has endured trauma causing the nerve to die.

4. As a preventative measure when having cosmetic dentistry or crowns prepared. If the crown preparations will be very large and close to the nerve of the tooth, it is best if the nerve is removed so that the tooth is not symptomatic after the crowns are cemented in place. 5. The nerve in a tooth goes bad due to a long standing large filling or crown encroaching on the nerve.



What is the nerve(pulp) of the tooth comprised of?

1. Nerve Cells and Tissue(Provides feeling to a tooth) 2. Red Blood Cells(Provides nourishment to a tooth) 3. White Blood Cells(Protects tooth against bacteria and irritation)





What are the steps involved in the root canal process?

1. Diagnosis(Decision is made to remove the tooth's nerve) 2. Anesthetize the patient(numb)

3. Place a

dental dam over the patient's diagnosed tooth.



4. Drill into the center of the tooth, accessing the nerve chamber. The nerve of a tooth resides in the crown(part of the tooth seen in the mouth) as well as in the roots(part of the tooth anchored in the jaw bone). 5. Locate the seperate nerve openings into the root areas of each tooth. The number of nerves varies with each tooth type, generally increasing in number from front to back teeth. 7. Clean the nerve canals with specialized instruments.(2 types)

Hand instrument(hand files) Held with the dentist's fingers and worked by hand to clean and shape the nerve chamber.

Rotary Files(Placed into special dental drills that skillfully clean and shape the tooth's interior.

The files used clean bacteria from inside the root, scrape the walls of the root clean and shape the root so that a filling may be properly placed. Several files are used successively going from thinner to thicker cleaning the canal. 8. Irrigate(rinse) the debris from inside the root canal system after each file is used. The irrigate most often used is sodium hypochlorite. It disinfects the interior of the tooth, as well as, washes debris from the interior. 9. once the interior of the tooth is clean and properly shaped, the canals must be dried of all moisture. 10. Fill the nerve chamber. Generally gutta percha is used as a filler in conjunction with an antibacterial cement.(Gutta percha is a rubbery substance) It seals the inside of the tooth preventing bacteria from repopulating the internal portion of the tooth, thus concluding the root canal process.

What are possible complicatons of having a root canal procedure?

Possible complications include but are not limited to: bleeding, swelling, pain, infection, detachment of instrument inside tooth, tooth loss, perforaton of tooth interior, numbness, failure of procedure to be successful.

There are complications associated with any medical procedure performed. Post operative pain is the most common complication associated with endodontic therapy. It is comfortable handled with pain and anti-inflammatory medication.

What is the success rate of modern root canal therapy?

Because of advancements in dental medications, techniques and technologies, the root canal process has a greater than 90% long term success rate.

Do not let this procedure intimidate you. Through proper preparation and handling of this treament, it can be very comfortable having a root canal.

Save your tooth when possible. You only receive one set of teeth as an adult.