Definition: A procedure in which the doctor removes the infected and damaged pulp tissue from within the tooth and then fills the root canals with a special biocompatible material.
The tooth consists of a superficial layer called enamel, under which is the dentin (the hard layer), that covers the soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp consists of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, which is the source of “food” for your tooth. When the pulp becomes infected, it causes pain and high sensitivity to your tooth, and if left untreated it may lead to abscess of the bone under the tooth.
How does it work?
First the doctor injects a local anesthetic to numb the area and the tooth itself, then he/she will place a dental dam (protective sheet made of rubber or vinyl) over the area of the tooth to isolate it from the bacteria found in saliva or the rest of the mouth. Then the proper work starts by drilling a way through the dentin to the pulp, which the doctor cleans from the pulp chamber and root canal with a special instrument. The next step is completed by disinfecting the canals and then shaping them for further filling. The doctor then fills the canals with a thermoplastic material called gutta-percha and seals them with a cement adhesive. The procedure is completed by placing a filling to close the opening, which can be permanent or temporary (requires a second visit to remove it and fill the opening with the permanent one). If the tooth was severely damaged and the doctor had to drill a lot of your tooth structure, you may need a crown to cover the damage.
What are the risks?
- The reappearance of the problem at the same tooth after some time;
- The tooth could be badly damaged and should be extracted (situation visible after drilling through the surface);
How to prepare for the procedure?
There is no need for anything special done, just try not to smoke or/and drink alcohol for 24 h prior to the procedure.
How long does the procedure take?
The procedure takes about 30-40 min, and if you will need a second visit to the doctor for the permanent filling, it could take even less.
How to recover after the procedure?
- The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a couple of days;
- The first couple of days after the procedure the tooth will be more sensitive, so avoid chewing with it, and eating and/or drinking cold or hot meals;
- Avoid chewing gum with that tooth for the first 2-3 days, especially if you have a temporary filling;
- Provide a good hygiene for your teeth;
- Pain is manageable with medication.