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Understanding the Root Canal Procedure

Root canal is a dental treatment which saves a badly infected or decayed tooth by repairing it. A root canal becomes necessary when a nerve or the pulp of the tooth is infected.

What is a tooth’s Pulp?

The tooth’s pulp is the soft part present in the tooth’s center. The pulp consists of the nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels, which are responsible for nourishing the tooth. The root canals are the roots or the legs of the tooth, which infuse the teeth into the gums and jawbone. From these canals branch the nerves that extend into the pulp of the tooth.

The nerves of the tooth are extremely important for it to rise from within the gums. However, after the tooth is fully grown the function of the nerves becomes limited to the sensations of hot and cold.

Why is the Pulp Removed?

A damaged pulp or nerve quickly becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria can cause the infection, or even an abscessed tooth. The infection can cause swelling on the head, face or neck as well as bone loss near the root of the infected tooth. The process of removing the damaged pulp is called the Root Canal.

As mentioned earlier, once the tooth grows fully the functions of the nerves is limited to sensation, removing these nerves do not affect the health of the tooth.

The Root Canal Procedure

The entire procedure, in itself, takes several visits to the dentist. The following are the steps in the entire procedure:

  1. First the endodontist or dentist will set the patient up for an X-ray. The X-ray is necessary to map the shape of the teeth and its roots. The X-ray also helps to determine the extent of the infection’s spread.
  2. The dentist will then numb the area surrounding the affected tooth by using a local anaesthetic. Although, the patient would not be able to feel anything because the nerves are already dead, the dentist still uses anaesthesia as a precaution and a benefit for the patient.
  3. To keep the area surrounding the infected tooth dry from saliva, the dentist will place a small sheet of rubber i.e. a rubber dam around the tooth, which absorbs the saliva.
  4. Next, the dentist will drill a whole into the affected tooth.
  5. Using root canal files, the dentist clears out the infected pulp and other decayed debris present in the pulp chamber. The files are inserted into the whole to completely scrape out the infected matter from the chamber and the root canals.

After the root canal procedure, the dentist places a crown or a post on the now hollow tooth. This protects the tooth from becoming brittle and chipping.