Pulp, a collection of blood vessels at the center of the tooth, helps to build the surrounding tooth. Pulp infection can be caused by trauma to the tooth, deep decay, cracks and chips, or repeated dental procedures. Symptoms are visible injury or swelling of the tooth, sensitivity to temperature or pain in the tooth and gums.
More than 15 million root canal treatments are performed every year, making it one of the most common dental procedures. This simple treatment can save a natural tooth and prevent the need for replacement with an artificial tooth. It is necessary when a tooth’s pulp becomes inflamed by deep decay, trauma, fractures or repeated dental procedures. The typical symptoms are tooth pain, sensitivity to heat or cold, swelling and tenderness in the adjacent gums, discoloration of the tooth and development of an abscess.
After the endodontist takes a digital x-ray of the tooth, the tooth will be tested for pain from biting, palpitation, percussion and cold and heat sensitivity and assessed for mobility and surrounding gum tissue health.
The endodontist will numb the tooth with a local anesthetic and place a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth from the surrounding area to keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure. Then the endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth and uses small instruments to clean and shape the pulp chamber and root canals to prepare the canal for filling.
Cleaned spaces are filled with a biocompatible material with an adhesive cement to seal the root canals, and a temporary filling is used to close the opening. The endodontist may use a post inside the tooth if it cannot hold the restoration in place. You can drive home and resume your normal routine, returning to the endodontist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth and then to have a follow-up appointment.