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If the nerve of your tooth is damaged (by deep caries or significant trauma), the tooth must undergo a root canal. A tooth with a damaged root may be painful, or you may not experience any symptoms.
A root canal is sometimes the only way to save a tooth if a simple extraction is not possible.
A root canal is necessary in the following situations:
Tooth pain and infection are sometimes present in these conditions. A root canal allows the dentist to save the patient’s tooth while relieving the associated pain and discomfort. A root canal also allows you to conserve the ability to chew and the look of your smile.
Steps in the Treatment
The purpose of a root canal is to remove swollen or infected dental pulp (soft tissue found inside the tooth that contains the blood vessels and nerves).
After administering a local anesthetic, the dentist makes an opening in the tooth in order to access the pulp, and ultimately remove it. The dentist then cleans the canal by widening and disinfecting it. The canal is then filled with cement and de gutta-percha (a rubber-like material).
When the interior of the tooth is completely clean and sealed, the dentist restores the section of the tooth above the gum line. The dentist may use a conventional restorative, a ceramic-based restorative or even a crown, depending on the severity of the damage. It is also possible that a pivot may be required.
The root canal may be completed in a single visit to the dentist, but depending on the condition of the pulp, the severity of the infection or your level of discomfort, additional sessions may be required. The average success rate of the procedure is quite high. However, because the root canal is sometimes very sensitive, it may be necessary to repeat some of the steps if the result is not satisfactory.
A general dentist is trained to perform root canals, but some cases that are more complex (e.g.: those involving dental trauma or certain types of surgery) may be referred to an endodontist who specializes in root canal treatments and traumatology.