Root canal procedures typically require more than one office visit and may be done by your dentist or an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist whose specialty is the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and trauma to the dental pulp of or the nerve of the tooth. Your dentist may feel comfortable performing your root canal procedure, or, depending on the level of difficulty, may refer you to an endodontist. Your dentist will know who is most qualified to perform the work you need on your particular tooth.
Before the procedure, an X-ray is taken. This will show the shape of your tooth’s root canals and will help determine if there are any signs of infection, particularly in the bone surrounding the tooth. You will receive a local anesthesia to numb the gum tissue around the affected tooth. If the nerve in the tooth is dead, anesthesia may not be necessary.
To prepare the working area and to keep it dry and saliva free during the procedure, your endodontist will use clips to place a dental dam (a rubber sheet) around the tooth. The endodontist will then drill a hole into the tooth and remove the decayed pulp, nerve tissue, and any other debris. Great care is taken to clean the entire root canal and to flush away all of the unwanted material.
Once the tooth is completely cleaned, your dentist will seal it. Depending on the severity of any infection, medication may be applied before the sealant can be applied. Once the infection is cleared, the tooth may be sealed. If the root canal procedure takes more than one visit, your dentist might apply a temporary filling to protect the area between your appointments.
At the second appointment, the inside of the tooth is filled with a rubber compound and sealer paste. Any holes left by the treatment are then filled. Many times, damage to a tooth is so severe that the tooth must be restored with a dental crown. Your dentist will know what additional dental work will be required to complete your root canal procedure.
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