Dr. Michael Handler

Root Canal Therapy - Treatment in Adult Teeth

By Dr. Michael Handler

root canal therapy

Preserving your natural teeth offers multiple advantages for overall health, so it's a primary goal of modern dentistry. When the pulp tissue deep inside a tooth gets inflamed or infected, your dentist might recommend root canal therapy. This is usually the solution if you've had an injury or trauma to a tooth, developed an internal infection or abscess, or tooth decay has reached the pulp. If you get timely treatment, the 'root canal procedure can halt the progression of disease and save the tooth, which might otherwise need to be extracted.

Signs and Symptoms of Pulp Damage

Pain is a common sign of pulp tissue problems, although not every patient experiences it. The discomfort can be ongoing or intermittent, and it can be triggered by biting down, changes in temperature or touching it with your tongue. Your dentist will be able to tell if you need a root canal procedure after doing a thorough 'oral examination. Some indications you might need this type of treatment are:

  • Your tooth becomes super-sensitive to hot and cold
  • You develop severe toothache pain, which might show no other signs or symptoms
  • Swelling, tenderness or discolouration develop in a part of your mouth or gum
  • An abscess or pimple develops on your gum tissue.

The examination frequently includes taking x-rays of your mouth to determine which tooth is damaged and to see the extent of it, as well as to find the best approach to remove the pulp.

First Phase of Root Canal Therapy

Most patients have root canal procedures over two or three dental visits, although in some instances it can be done in one appointment. At the first session, the dentist injects a local anesthetic to freeze the area of the gum where work is needed. A rubber dental dam is placed around the tooth being treated, to isolate it from the rest of your mouth and protect it from the bacteria in your saliva.

The dentist makes a small opening in the tooth that allows him (or her) to reach the tooth's root chamber. The pulp is removed with fine dental instruments, the root canal area is cleaned and disinfected with antibacterial products and enlarged. The dentist covers the opening in the tooth with a temporary filling until the next appointment, and may prescribe medication to reduce infection and encourage healing.

What Happens at the Next Appointment

The second phase of the root canal therapy is usually done at another appointment a week later. The service involves removing the temporary filling, cleaning the pulp chamber and the root canals again.

Next, the chamber is filled with a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha that the dentists cements to the tooth using sealer paste. The last phase is the restoration of the tooth, usually with a crown that will protect the tooth and avoid it breaking, while allowing the patient to use it fully. You can watch a video of the procedure or read a step-by-step guide on the Colgate website, to help prepare yourself for a root canal.

For more information on root canal procedures or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Handler, please contact 416-267-4661.

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