A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.
“Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural cavity within the center of the tooth. The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area within the root canal. The tooth’s nerve lies within the root canal.
A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory — to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
Because your comfort is important to us, we’ll make sure your mouth is thoroughly numb before we begin. Next, we’ll place a rubber dam around the infected tooth to isolate it from the rest of your mouth. The rubber dam keeps the tooth dry and accessible for us and prevents anything from falling to the back of your throat.
To get to the infected tooth pulp, we’ll make an opening through the top of the crown down into the pulp chamber. In some cases, we may have to remove the entire crown in order to access the pulp chamber. We’ll then use a tiny tool called a dental file to carefully remove the infected tissue and shape the root canals to receive a filling material.
At this point, we may take X-rays to be sure that all of the infected pulp is removed. We then fill the root canals with a restorative material. Then we’ll fill the hole in your crown with a restorative material or, if we’ve removed the crown, we’ll take steps to create a new crown.
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