This procedure removes dental pulp when it has become dead or infected. Dental pulp is the soft core of the tooth. It contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp extends from the top of the tooth, called the crown, all the way down to the roots, in branches called canals.
When dental pulp becomes infected or dies, a painful abscess within the jawbone will occur. Removing dead or diseased dental pulp will prevent infection from spreading to other areas of the mouth and destroying bone around the tooth. If a root canal is not done, the tooth will need to be removed.
Common signs of pulp problems include:
Pain when biting down on a tooth
Pain when the tooth is not being used
Sensitivity to hot or cold food or beverages
Swollen gums around the infected tooth
A draining boil-like structure (called a fistula) on the gum adjacent to the tooth
A small hole will be made through the top of the tooth and into the pulp. Next, steel files will be inserted to extract the pulp tissue. All teeth have 1-4 individual canals. Pulp will need to be extracted from all canals in the affected tooth. Once all pulp has been removed, the walls of the root canal will be reshaped and enlarged. Medication will be inserted to kill bacteria.
At this point, a temporary filling may be inserted. This filling will protect the tooth. The procedure may be done within 1 visit or at multiple appointments. This depends on the condition of the tooth. Lastly, the canal will be dried, sterilized, and filled with a rubbery material. This material will prevent recontamination.
Root canals: FAQs about treatment that can save your tooth.
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at:
https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/r/root-canals. Accessed March 5, 2018.
Root canal treatment. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed March 5, 2018.
What is a root canal? Know Your Teeth—Academy of General Dentistry website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated January 2012. Accessed March 5, 2018.