Root Canals 101

18 April 2017
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


A root canal is a dental procedure that attempts to save a tooth first rather than extracting it. A tooth that is badly decayed or severely infected used to just be pulled, but with advances in dental technology, an endodontist- a dentist who specializes in saving teeth- can perform a root canal procedure instead. Here is what you need to know.

What Exactly Is A Root Canal?

Inside each tooth, there is a root that anchors it in place to the jaw bone and gum. There are canals inside the root, and they need to be cleaned of any debris, decayed areas, and infection. Once they are excavated, the tooth can be filled and sealed. How Long Does A Root Canal Take?

The entire process will take a few visits to accomplish as there are several steps to complete. If you go to the dentist with a toothache, the dentist will first look at the x-rays to see if the tooth can be saved. Some teeth are too decayed to try saving. This is why it is important to see your dentist regularly or at the first sign of trouble.

What Are The Steps Involved With A Root Canal?

Administer Anesthesia

If the dentist decides the tooth is a good candidate to attempt saving, he will begin with anesthetizing the tooth. This usually involves a shot of Novocain, a local anesthetic. Some dentists also employ nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas. This gas is inhaled through a clip placed over your nostrils. It has analgesic and anesthetic effects, but it also tends to relax people. For patients who are extremely anxious about dental procedures, your dentist may prescribe a mild sedative to help reduce your anxiety that you can take one hour before your appointment.

Get To The Root Of The Problem

The dentist needs to open the tooth and get to the bottom of things at the root. This requires the use of an endodontic file, or small drill. Once the dentist opens this pocket, you may smell an unpleasant odor. This is the decay and pus of infection.

Remove The Infection

An assortment of tools is used to remove the icky decay and infection debris. Water is used via an irrigation tool to flush the debris out. You may need to take a course of antibiotics before proceeding to the next step. 

Fill The Canals

Once the canals are completely clean, they are filled with a substance called gutta-percha. This is a natural latex produced by several types of trees in Malaysia. It is like cement.

Rebuild The Tooth

At this point, the tooth will be capped until a crown can be custom made to fit over the existing tooth. If it is a back molar, it is sometimes capped with a metal crown rather than porcelain to cut down on the price. 

For more information or assistance, contact companies like Ramtown Dental Associates.