Endodontics is the area of dentistry dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the dental pulp.
Endodontic therapy (root canal) is a treatment modality that will save diseased or injured teeth. The alternative to endodontics is extraction. Typically, a severely decayed tooth or a tooth with a large filling will begin to ache. The pain might be intermittent at first and over time progress to a constant dull throbbing pain or a severe ache that might be felt on all the teeth on the affected side. Sometimes there is no pain and an abscess might be discovered on a routine x-ray.
The pulp is the soft tissue that is located inside the tooth structure. It contains nerves, arteries, veins, and lymph tissue. It is contained in the canals located in thin tube-like spaces in the roots and in the pulp chamber located within the crown of the tooth.
Endodontic therapy normally takes two or three visits to complete. The following steps are involved in the treatment of the tooth:
A local anesthetic is used so the procedure will be pain free. The tooth will then be isolated by placing a rubber dam over it. This thin sheet of rubber provides a clean and aseptic working environment.
An opening is then made through the top of the tooth into the pulp chamber. The pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and the root canals are cleaned, enlarged, and shaped to a form that can be filled and sealed latter.
A temporary filling is placed in the the opening in the tooth to seal it between visits. There can be some discomfort in the area of the tooth for a day or two following the initial visit. Occasionally the pain can be more severe.
During the next stage of treatment, the temporary filling is removed and the root canals are filled and sealed. This completes the endodontic treatment.
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