Endodontics is a specialized form of dentistry that treats diseases or injuries that affect the root tip or nerve of the tooth and the structures called the pulp chamber, pulp, and root canal of the tooth. Root canal therapy is the most common endodontic procedure. Endodontics is one of the nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association; it was recognized as a dental specialty in 1963.
Root canal treatment usually takes one to three visits. Here is what normally occurs during a root canal procedure:
● First, your gums are numbed with a topical substance and a local anesthetic is injected into the nearby area to completely numb your teeth, gums, tongue, and skin. For patients with an acute low tolerance for pain or anxiety, nitrous oxide gas may be used.
● A small sheet of rubber is placed over the surrounding area of the affected tooth in order to isolate it from surrounding teeth and prevent you from swallowing debris.
● A small hole is made in the top of the tooth in order to access the pulp chamber, pulp and root canals. The pulp is removed, the pulp chamber cleaned and the canals are cleared of debris and tissue. In most cases, the canals are first filled with antibiotic medications and temporary filling materials up to the gum line.
● Depending on the circumstances, the root canal may be left open for a few days in order to drain. In some cases, the canals may be filled right away with a final root canal filling.
● If the canals are not permanently sealed, the temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and canal(s) are filled with a rubber-like material to prevent recontamination. If the tooth is still weak, a metal post may be inserted above the canal filling to reinforce the tooth.
● Once filled, the area is permanently sealed, and an impression of the tooth is made so an artificial crown can be made for placement over the affected tooth. In some cases, a temporary crown is placed over the tooth until the permanent gold or porcelain crown is made and cemented in, usually by your family dentist.