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Root Canal Procedure

At the first dental visit, you may be prescribed antibiotic treatment for a number of days before the root canal procedure is performed. At the beginning of the procedure, your dentist will anesthetize the tooth sufficiently to prevent pain while performing the root canal procedure.

A drill is then used to access the pulp chamber and associated canals of the tooth. Using flexible nickel titanium pin-like files, the dentist will delicately (but thoroughly) cleanse the length of the canals and tip (or apex) of the root to completely remove all traces of infection or debris. This process is performed with a great deal of care in order to minimize damage or trauma to the surrounding ligaments and bone. To accomplish this, the dentist may use additional tools to measure the root. These tools may include digital X-rays taken during the cleaning phase, an apex locator that works as a sonar probe to locate the tip of the root and a microscope providing up to 32-times magnification.

Your dentist will then disinfect and seal the tooth. Some dentists and endodontists use a special type of heat gun to fill the canal with a material called gutta-percha. Gutta-percha is a natural, biocompatible, anti-bacterial material that expands and seals the hollowed area within the span of about 15 minutes. Other dentists and endodontists may use the bonding process to seal the tooth with a resin material. The dentist then fills the canal's access hole with a temporary or permanent filling.

On occasion, a temporary filling is placed in the hole used to access the root canals in order to allow time for healing. Once the tooth is deemed to be healing properly and the root canal deemed a success, a permanent restoration (such as a dental filling or crown) is placed. During the interim, you may receive medication to manage the soreness and discomfort that may result from the procedure.

The Dentists Who Perform Root Canals

Simple root canals may be performed by a general or family dentist. Root canals in which the canal has an anatomy complex enough to make it difficult to find, navigate or reach the root may require the touch of an endodontist. Endodontists are dentists who focus on disorders of the dental pulp and specialize in treatments such as root canals. An endodontist also performs root canals on teeth with more than one canal, such as molars.

Root Canals: Today's Treatment Advantages

The technology of today's dental instruments has led to revolutionary enhancements in treatment. For example, endodontists and dentists of the past had to feel their way through the anatomy of the tooth in order to locate the tiny canals that house pulp tissue. Today, the use of a microscope allows dentists to easily navigate through even the most complex anatomy.

Authored By: Greg Johnstone
Reviewed By: Brian Quesnell, DDS

   
   



 
 
 
 


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