It used be that before there were root canals, a diseased tooth would need to be extracted leaving an unsightly gap or the need for an artificial tooth (be it a partial denture or bridge). Now with advanced dental procedures, we are able to save the tooth in many cases. Most root canals are relatively simple procedures with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!
Why would I need it?
Our teeth are very complex structures made of many different layers of material. As you can see in the diagram below, your tooth has a hard enamel layer on the outside followed by a softer dentin layer, ultimately leading to the nutrient rich pulp inside the tooth. This pulp is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development. If there is a crack or opening in the outer layer of your tooth, the pulp can become diseased or injured, and eventually the tissue dies. If you leave the diseased pulp untreated, it can become infected and result in a painful abscess and potential tooth and bone loss.
Dr. Watson or an Endodontic Specialist will numb the area around the affected tooth and drill to the pulp area through the top or the back of the tooth. The canal is measured after some of the pulp has been removed, in order to gauge how much filling material will be used to completely fill the canal. The actual measuring is done with x-rays or electronic imaging devices.
Once all of the diseased pulp is removed, and the canal is cleaned out thoroughly with an antiseptic solution, it is then filled with gutta percha, a flexible plastic material. A temporary filling is fitted on top until all signs of infection are clear. A permanent filling or crown is applied on the last appointment. The crown or filling is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.
Expect two to three days of soreness after the procedure, or longer if the infection in the root canal was severe.