Root canal

A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth.  The procedure involves removing the damaged area of the tooth (the pulp), cleaning and disinfecting it and then filling and sealing it.  Your dentist uses x-rays, and a variety of different tests to help in determining if your tooth requires a root canal.

A root canal has to be done if bacteria (from a cavity, an inadequate restoration, etc.) found its way into the pulp of the tooth and caused an infection. Symptoms associated with an infection of your pulp is mostly pain and swelling.

The treatment:

The dentist will then determine if he can do the root canal or if you need to be referred to a specialist,  called an endodontist.  He/She must also see if the tooth has enough healthy bone and gum tissue around it. If the tooth is severely infected with gum disease and is mobile, removal of the tooth may be the only option.

At your root canal appointment, your dentist will administer a local anesthesic to desensitize the tooth. An opening is made through the crown of your tooth to the pulp chamber. Special instruments called files, are used to clean the infection and unhealthy pulp out of the canals. After everything is cleaned, the dentist will fill and seal the canal/s. The dentist will need x-rays many times during the treatment to make sure everything is removed.

Once everything is sealed, the dentist will do a restoration on top of your tooth. He may place a temporary filling to make sure that certain symptoms don’t come back and will give you an appointment after to place a permanent filling and do a follow up of his treatment.

Suggested restorations are white fillings (composite), gray fillings (amalgam) or a crown. The crown is the most recommended treatment in order to prevent fractures to the tooth. ( To know more about crowns, please visit the crown section).