Root Canals

Root Canals

Inside each tooth is an area referred to as the pulp chamber. That chamber travels down the length of the root to the tip and is called a canal. This is where we received the term ‘root canal’. All human teeth have between one and four root canals. Molars usually have two and four canals. Premolars are equipped with one or two canals. Anterior teeth generally have one root canal. In some cases, extra canals may branch out from the main canal. These canals are called accessory canals. The number of canals and the anatomy can vary among teeth and patients.
Root canals contain the tooth’s pulp, which is commonly referred to as the nerve. The tooth’s nerve originates in the pulp chamber. If a nerve experiences trauma or infection, root canal therapy is necessary to remedy the problem. Common causes for root canal therapy include tooth decay which has penetrated a tooth’s enamel and the dentin to the pulp, infected or abscessed teeth, and chipped, broken or otherwise damaged teeth.

Root canal therapy is performed in single and multiple visits, depending on the depth of the procedure. Before a procedure begins, your dentist in Marina Del Rey CA will advise you about how many appointments will be required to completely treat the root canal. If the endodontist finds an infection or abscess in the tooth, antibiotics may be prescribed before the root canal can be completed. The root canal begins with local anesthetic to numb the area to be treated. After the affected tooth is numb, the endodontist will x-ray the tooth for reference throughout the root canal procedure. A rubber dam is then placed over your mouth, which keeps the tooth isolated from your saliva and dry throughout treatment. Our endodontist applies various solutions to disinfect inside the tooth. The rubber dam helps to keep the disinfecting solutions from entering your mouth.

Once the tooth is prepared and disinfected, the root canal procedure begins with a small hole being drilled through the tooth, into pulp chamber. The next step involves the use of tiny files, which remove the nerve and any infected tissue from the tooth. Some files are applied by hand, while other files are connected to a slow-moving dental rotary instrument. At this point in the procedure, the endodontist may take a second x-ray to determine the length of the root. Removing the entire nerve is critical to prevent toothaches after the procedure and re-infection of the tooth. In order to prevent re-infection, the endodontist gets as close to the apex of the tooth as possible and removes all of the nerve. This is usually the longest part of the procedure.

Once the dentist is confident that the entire root has been removed, the tooth is dried with paper points. Once the tooth is completely dry, the dentist will apply a material called Gutta-percha to the inside of the tooth. Gutta-percha is a rubber material applied to the inside of the tooth for sealing.

After sealing is complete, your endodontist will then remove any remaining tooth decay and will determine whether installing a temporary filling or to proceed with a permanent filling. If your root canal is performed by our endodontist, a temporary restoration will be installed, and the patient will visit our local dentist in Marina Del Rey for final restoration. It’s likely the dentist will recommend a crown be installed to cover and protect the treated tooth. Since nerve and blood supply have been removed from the tooth, it may become brittle over time, which would result in a cracked tooth. Installing a crown prevents further breakdown in the tooth.

Once local anesthesia wears off, you may encounter some tooth soreness after the procedure. You may be prescribed a pain reliever and/or antibiotics to remedy any remaining infection. If antibiotics were prescribed before your root canal, the dentist will instruct you to finish your course of medication.
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