Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is the process of removing infected, injured or dead pulp from your tooth. The space inside the hard layers of each tooth is called the root canal system. This system is filled with soft dental pulp made up of nerves and blood vessels that help your tooth grow and develop.
When bacteria (germs) enter your tooth through deep cavities, cracks or flawed fillings, your tooth can become abscessed. An abscessed tooth is a tooth with an infection in the pulp. If pulp becomes infected, it needs to be removed. An abscessed tooth may cause pain and/or swelling. Your dentist may notice the infection from a dental x-ray or from other changes with the tooth. If left untreated, an abscessed tooth can cause serious oral health problems.
Who does this procedure?
Your dentist may do root canal treatment or refer you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who has completed a university post-graduate specialty program in endodontics. Endodontics is a specialty of dentistry concerned with the treatment of the dental pulp or nerve of the tooth.
How is a root canal treatment done?
1. The dentist gives you a local anesthetic (freezing).
2. To protect your tooth from bacteria in your saliva during the treatment, the dentist places a rubber dam around the tooth being treated.
3. The dentist makes an opening in the tooth to reach the root canal system and the damaged pulp.
4. Using very fine dental instruments, the dentist removes the pulp by cleaning and enlarging the root canal system.
5. After the canal has been cleaned, the dentist fills and seals the canal.
6. The opening of the tooth is then sealed with either a temporary or permanent filling.