Endodontics (Root Canal Treatment)

Endodontics is the branch of dentistry dealing with the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases of the dental pulp, usually by removal of the nerve and other tissue of the pulp cavity and its replacement with suitable filling material; pulp canal therapy; root canal therapy.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. 

Why Does Tooth Pulp Need to Be Removed?
When a tooth's nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:

• Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head

• Bone loss around the tip of the root

• Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.


The first step in the procedure is to take an X-ray to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in a surrounding bone. We then use local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth. Anesthesia may not be necessary, since the nerve is dead, but most dentists still anesthetize the area to make the patient more relaxed and at ease.Next, to keep the area dry and free of saliva during treatment, we will place a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) around the tooth.An access hole will then be drilled into the tooth. The pulp along with bacteria, the decayed nerve tissue and related debris is removed from the tooth. The cleaning out process is accomplished using root canal files. A series of these files of increasing diameter are each subsequently placed into the access hole and worked down the full length of the tooth to scrape and scrub the sides of the root canals. Water or sodium hypochlorite is used periodically to flush away the debris. Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it is sealed. Some dentists like to wait a week before sealing the tooth. For instance, if there is an infection, we may put a medication inside the tooth to clear it up. Others may choose to seal the tooth the same day it is cleaned out. If the root canal is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep out contaminants like saliva and food between appointments.

How Succesful Are Root Canals?

Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime. Also, because the final step of the root canal procedure is application of a restoration such as a crown or a filling, it will not be obvious to onlookers that a root canal was performed. 

Key Facts
You don’t have to be suffering from a really bad toothache for a dentist to recommend root canal therapy. In many cases, teeth that are already dead but are not at all painful may require root canal treatment to prevent the tooth from becoming further infected.

• There is no correct reason to assume that the treated tooth will still be extracted in the future. In general, most root canal treatments are successful and will result in the tooth being saved.

• According to a study published by the American Association of Endodontists, the perception that people have about root canal therapy being painful comes from the early treatment methods used to perform this procedure. Dental experts also say that if you are already suffering from pain on the day of your treatment, your apprehension and fear may heighten the sensations you feel during the procedure.

• In actuality, root canal therapy is done to provide pain relief to patients. The majority of people who undergo this dental procedure admit they did not experience any pain during the treatment and that they felt better afterwards.


Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for a root canal?

You could be a candidate for a root canal if decay or damage has allowed bacteria to infect the pulp inside your tooth. A root canal could also be the right treatment for you if you prefer to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible instead of extracting both the healthy and diseased portions of your tooth. For more information about root canals and whether they are right for you, schedule a dental exam and consultation at your earliest convenience.

What should I expect during my root canal treatment?

If you decide to undergo a root canal, the first step in your procedure will involve a local anaesthetic. Once your tooth root is numb, the diseased portion of your tooth pulp will be removed and potentially treated for bacterial infection. The tooth will then be sealed and filled before being restored with a crown.

What type of post-treatment care is required after a root canal?

It is normal for teeth to become inflamed after a root canal, potentially causing sensitivity for the first several days following treatment. However, normal brushing and flossing habits can be resumed immediately after treatment and restoration is complete.