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What is a Root Canal?

Endodontist - Root CanalA root canal is a procedure that is performed when soft tissue inside your tooth’s root canal, called pulp, becomes infected. Pulp can become infected for a variety of reasons including cavities, damage to the tooth or if you have had multiple procedures done on that tooth.

Many people experience dental anxiety, and that is only heightened when they need to have a procedure completed. Luckily, root canals are a very common procedure.

According to the American Associates of Endodontists, more than 15 million root canals are performed each year, and, because the tooth will be numb, you will most likely not even feel what is going on.

Even so, root canals can still worry some people. Below we have mapped out what happens during a root canal procedure to help you better understand what is involved.

1. The endodontist will begin by taking x-rays and examining the tooth. They will numb the tooth and apply a “dental dam” over the tooth to section it off and keep it clean during the procedure.

2. The endodontist begins by making a small opening in the crown of your tooth. Once there is an opening, the endodontist cleans out the infected pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals. They will also shape the space that receives the filling.

3. Next, the endodontist will apply the filling. This is usually a rubbery material called gutta-percha. This is combined with an adhesive to completely seal the root canal. They will also most likely place a temporary filling over the opening of your tooth.

4. Once you are done with the root canal procedure, you will need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to remove the temporary filling, after which the dentist will place a crown or another restorative to the tooth so that it becomes fully functional.

Root canal procedures are usually completed in one to two visits. Root canals will help get your tooth back to its normal function and relieve you of the pain you experience.

It is important to maintain regular dental appointments and dental hygiene to ensure your teeth are healthy. If you experience pain in a tooth, you should consult your dentist to find out what is going on.

An apicoectomy is a common kind of endodontic surgery.

ApicoectomyThis procedure is used when a root canal treatment has not been successful or cannot be used. A root canal procedure may not be effective if the tooth that is infected has a crown. As root canals are performed by making an opening on the top of the tooth, if that tooth has a crown, a root canal may damage it.

Additionally, root canals do not always manage to remove all of the infection. There are a lot of branches that expand off of your main canal that could carry the infection. An apicoectomy differs from a root canal because, rather than going through the top of the tooth, an endodontist will open the gum tissue near the tooth to remove the infection.

If your dentist or endodontist recommends an apicoectomy, here is what you can expect.

Step 1: Preparing

Although your dentist will not be the one performing this surgery, they can examine the tooth using x-rays and they may suggest a mouthwash or medicine to help treat the infection prior to your surgery.

Step 2: Removing the Infection

The endodontist will open the gum near the infected tooth to expose the infection. They will then remove the infection as well as the tip of the tooth’s root.

Step 3: Filling

A filling will be placed on the end of the root to fill the missing area that the endodontist removed.

Step 4: X-rays

To make sure the infection is gone, the endodontist will take some x-rays of the tooth.

Step 5: Fixing the Gums

Once the endodontist has placed the filling on the tip of the root, they will close the gums and place a couple of stitches in order to reconnect the gums.

The surgery usually takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the severity of your case. The endodontist will use a local anesthesia during the procedure. Some discomfort may occur after surgery as your mouth heals.

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