Root Canals

Underneath your tooth’s outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, which carries the tooth’s nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has at least one but no more than four root canals. 

 Root canal treatment typically requires a series of appointments.  At the first appointment, the dentist will drill a small hole through the crown, and remove the infected pulp tissue.  The pulp chamber and root canals are then cleaned out and disinfected to remove all of the infection causing bacteria. 

If there is an abscess, then the dentist may place a temporary seal on the tooth, provide you with antibiotics, and schedule a follow-up appointment.  If there is no evidence of remaining infection at the next appointment, then the canals are packed using a paste and inert rubber like material called gutta percha.   Depending on the condition of the tooth, the access opening is either filled with cement, or a crown is placed on the tooth.

If root canal therapy is suggested by a dentist, then is important to have a tooth treated as soon as possible.  An infection that is allowed to continue, will likely result in the formation of an abscess at the root of the tooth.   This will lead to destruction of the underlying bone tissue an may make it impossible to save the tooth in addition, the infection can spread to adjacent teeth, and could result in fever, swelling in the face and neck, and a general feeling of malaise.