Experiencing severe pain from a badly damaged tooth? Don’t pull it out just yet. Ask your dentist if a root canal can save your tooth from extraction.

When will you need a root canal?

Root canal refers to the natural cavity inside your tooth that contains the soft dental pulp that is made up of nerves and blood vessels. The dental pulp can be damaged by:

  • extensive tooth decay
  • repeated dental procedures on the tooth
  • large fillings
  • crack or chip in the tooth
  • trauma

When the pulp is damaged, it decays and becomes infested with bacteria. The tooth becomes infected and abscess or pus forms at the end of the roots. The abscessed tooth can cause pain and swelling that may spread to the other areas of your head and neck. If left untreated, an abscessed tooth can cause other serious dental problems.

What is the process of a root canal treatment? 

A root canal treatment may take one to several visits depending on the treatment plan of the dentist. If your tooth is infected, antibiotics will be prescribed for you to take before proceeding with the root canal treatment on your next appointment.  If you have an abscessed tooth and the abscess is large, the pus may be drained first before undergoing the procedure.

1. Consultation

The first step to having a root canal treatment is consultation.  During the consultation, our dentist will personally examine your teeth, evaluate your case, advise you of your options and provide you with a detailed treatment plan. Photographs and x-rays of your teeth will also be taken during your consult.

2. Removing the dental pulp

First, the dentist will administer local anesthesia to ensure that the procedure will be as comfortable and as pain free as possible. Then a dental dam will be installed to isolate the tooth to be treated.

When everything is ready, the dentist will drill the tooth to create a hole to access the pulp chamber. Using a series of files, the dentist will scrape and scrub the canals to remove the decaying and diseased pulp.

3. Cleaning the root canals

After the diseased pulp is removed, the dentist will proceed to clean the pulp chamber and canals by flushing water or sodium hypochlorite. The dentist must ensure that the tooth is clear of all infection and is dry before permanently sealing it.

The dentist may delay permanently filling the tooth on the same appointment if the tooth still needs to be drained or treated with antibiotics for a few days. The dentist may also place medication into the chamber to clear any remaining infection. Instead of permanent fillings, the dentist will seal the tooth with temporary fillings until the next appointment.

4. Filling the root canals

After cleaning and drying, the dentist will proceed to fill the interior of the tooth and the canals with a sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta-percha. The root canal treatment ends when the exterior of the tooth is finally sealed with a permanent dental filling. Congratulations!

5. Crowning the tooth

After completing the root canal procedure, your dentist will recommend protecting the tooth further with a dental crown. As a separate procedure, you may read more about dental crowns in the link below: