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The Root Canal Process
A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed. Millions are performed each year. This simple treatment can save your natural teeth and prevent the need of dental implants or bridges. Remember, nothing is better than keeping your natural tooth!
When you look at your tooth in the mirror, what you see is the crown, which is made of enamel and dentin. The rest of the tooth is hidden beneath the gum line, which is called the root. Inside the root(s) are small, thin passageways containing pulp tissue that branch off from the top chamber through the root tip.
Sometimes the pulp inside the tooth becomes infected by disease or bacteria, or damaged by a traumatic injury. Fractures of the tooth, periodontal disease and even repeated dental procedures may contribute to pulpal degeneration. Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. If pulpal inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
An infected and untreated root canal can allow bacteria in the tooth to enter the surrounding tissue where it will then lead to erosion of the bone beneath the tooth and cause infections to travel along facial spaces and spread further.
The goal of endodontic therapy (or root canal therapy) is to eliminate the diseased pulp that is threatening your tooth. This is accomplished through a set of procedures that clean, shape, and decontaminate the hollows (canals) of your tooth’s interior. The root canal process can be broken down as follows:
Before treatment begins, a small sheet of soft rubber is placed over your tooth. This serves to keep the working area clean, dry, and isolated from the rest of the mouth to help prevent contamination.
Root Canal Access
After the rubber dam is placed in the mouth, Dr. Lepore will prepare a small opening through the surface of your infected tooth in order to access the pulp chamber.
Canal Cleaning and Shaping
Once an access opening has been created, Dr. Lepore, aided by the use of an endodontic microscope, will use a series of tiny tooth files to clean out the inflamed pulp from your tooth’s root canal chamber. These files are also used to re-shape the inside of your tooth, clearing the way for the filling material that will be inserted at the end of the procedure. The use of an endodontic microscope allows Dr. Lepore to identify every canal in your tooth’s interior to ensure that no canal is missed and that nothing is left contaminated. Additionally, the high powered microscope let the doctor to see hidden fractures in the root that could jeopardize the procedure.
Filling the Root Canal
The final step for Dr. Lepore is to fill the newly-cleaned root canal with a material called gutta-percha. This material protects the root canal space and produces a tight seal that blocks any further infection from reaching the tooth’s roots.