Root Canals

Sometimes an injury or a large cavity allows bacteria to enter a tooth’s root. A Root Canal (Endodontic Therapy) is a sequence of treatments that removes the bacteria from the root of a tooth.

What does the treatment involve?

The first step in the treatment is to take an X-ray to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone. Dr. Mitchell will use local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth. Anesthesia may not be necessary, since the nerve may be dead, but most dentists still anesthetize the area to make the patient more relaxed and at ease.

To keep the area dry and free of saliva during treatment, Dr. Mitchell will place a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) around the tooth. An access hole is then drilled into the tooth. The pulp of the tooth, bacteria, and decayed nerve tissue is removed from the tooth. This cleaning out process is accomplished using root canal files. A series of these files of increasing diameter are each subsequently placed into the access hole and worked down the full length of the tooth to scrape and scrub the sides of the root canals. Water or sodium hypochlorite is used periodically to flush away debris.

How long does the treatment take?

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it is sealed. If there was an infection inside the tooth, Dr. Mitchell will wait a week to allow time for medication to stop it. If there is no infection the tooth can be sealed the same day it is cleaned out. If the root canal is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed in the hole of the tooth to keep out contaminants like saliva and food.

What happens after the treatment?

After a Root Canal the tooth needs to be restored. Since a tooth that needed a root canal is often one that had a large filling or extensive decay, a crown, crown and post, or other restoration will be needed. This helps protect the tooth, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to full function. Dr. Mitchell will discuss the need for any additional dental work with you.