A root canal treatment is a type of dental treatment procedure meant to repair a severely damaged or infected tooth. A space inside the tooth known as the pulp chamber houses the root canal and pulp- this is the living tissue that sustains the tooth. This pulp includes nerves, connecting tissues and blood vessels that create the hard tissues of the tooth.
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Endodontic (or root canal) procedure is needed when the pulp becomes inflamed of infected. The pulp may become infected due to a number of reasons including severe tooth decay, trauma, root fracture, or multiple dental procedures. A root canal treatment involves removal of the pulp, cleaning, disinfecting, filling, and sealing. The term “root canal” actually comes from cleaning of the canals inside the root.
Root canals are performed by endodontists, many of these are Fort Lauderdale FL dentists who have completed a minimum of two years of advanced residency focusing on the diagnosis, management and treatment of conditions affecting the dental pulp.
Diagnosis and Procedures
Before your dentist signs you up for a root canal there are a number of steps that precede treatment. During the office visits your dentists may perform a number of procedures including:
- X-Ray- before a dentist settles for a root canal treatment, he or she may first order an X-Ray to examine the condition of the pulp.
- Anesthesia- most dentists in Fort Lauderdale FL use local anesthesia but other types of anesthetic may be available. Contrary to common belief, this procedure is no more painful than a regular tooth filling.
- Pulpectomy- this is when the dentist makes an opening in order to remove the infected tooth pulp.
- Filling- after removal of the pulp, the open canal is then filled with gutta-percha material, and finally sealed off using cement.
Rebuilding the Tooth
A temporary filling substance is placed on top of the gutta-percha to protect the opening and is only removed once the tooth gets a permanent filling or crown. Gutta-percha is a thermoplastic material- meaning it is made by heating plastic to form its shape. This substance is literally heated and compressed onto the walls of the root canal as a permanent way to seal the space. If the tooth doesn’t have a structure that can support a restoration or filling, a plastic or metal post may be placed in the canal to help retain the tooth.
After the procedure, the dentist may prescribe an antibacterial to prevent chances of an infection. After-effects of a root canal treatment are minimal but always make sure to follow the dentist’s instructions in regards to rest, prescriptions and/or maintenance.
Tips for Care after Procedure
Root canals are almost always successful, and a well-treated and restored tooth should last a lifetime with proper care. Here are tips to help maintain healthy teeth after root canal treatment:
- Practice good oral hygiene: always brush after meals and floss whenever possible. It will help prevent the formation of plaque and acids that damage enamel.
- Don’t chew on hard foods- this can cause teeth to break and injure root canal. Also, sugary foods should be avoided, or eaten during mealtime, after which brushing is recommended.
- Visit the dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning, that way you can avoid a severe dental problem.