Whether or not you're familiar with the term "endodontic treatment", chances are you've heard of a root canal.
Root canals are endodontic treatments, in which damaged or diseased pulp in a tooth is taken out and replaced with another substance and sealed.
The pulp of a tooth can be damaged by injury, fracture of the tooth, tooth decay or damage from dental work like having had many fillings.
Bacteria in the pulp can spread to the roots of the tooth. An abscess can result in an accumulation of pus, and the bone around the tooth can suffer damage.
In some cases, intense pain will indicate a serious problem with the tooth. In other cases, for instance if the deterioration is gradual, pain may not be a signal.
A tooth whose pulp is inflamed or infected may be dealt with by pulling the tooth or by root canal therapy.
According to the Free Dictionary website, the American Association of Endodontists reported that more than 14 million root canals are performed each year.
For a root canal, your dentist or endodontist will apply a local anesthetic. A rubber dam, which is a thin sheet made of rubber, isolates the tooth, and the tooth decay is taken out of the tooth. An opening through the tooth's crown gains access to the pulp chamber.
Canals in the tooth are examined with X-rays so that the canal space can be cleared of bacteria and unhealthy pulp tissue. Irrigation with water flushes out any debris.
A temporary seal may be performed at this time. The tooth may be left open instead to allow for more drainage. An antibiotic will be prescribed to deal with any infection.
More than one visit is usually needed for a root canal to allow for this process.
When it's time to finish the root canal procedure, with the canals completely cleaned out, gutta percha and a sealer cement are applied.
According to the Life Enthusiast website, Dr. George E. Meinig, DDS, FACD the Dentist for the Twentieth Century Fox Studio and founding member of the American Association of Endodontists, said that gutta percha is the most common root filling.
Gutta percha is a rubbery material which Meinig said packs best when it is warmed.