Root canals are not much different than placing a dental filling. In fact, placing a filling is one of the steps associated with root canals. Because a root canal involves removing infected pulp tissue from your “root canal,” there are a few more steps involved than simply placing a filling. However, today root canal therapy (RCT) is about equal to receiving a filling when it comes to comfort level. If your dentist has recommended a root canal, it is good to understand how they are performed.
What is RCT?
Root canal therapy is performed when bacteria or decay has reached the inner living pulp of your tooth. This can happen if you have a crack in your tooth and bacteria infiltrates it, or if decay moves through the enamel and dentin layers, and reaches the middle of your tooth where your tooth pulp is housed. When the pulp becomes infected it can be very painful because your tooth pulp consists of living tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. To relieve the pain and save the tooth without extracting it and leaving a gaping hole (which can lead to other dental issues), root canal therapy is performed.
What to Expect During RCT
RCT consists of the following steps:
- An access hole is created from which the infected pulp is removed from your root canal.
- The inside of your tooth is cleaned and disinfected.
- The now empty root canal and pulp chamber are filled with a biocompatible material called gutta percha.
- The access hole is then sealed with a dental filling.
- If necessary, the tooth will be covered with a dental crown for added strength and protection.