Root canal therapy is a treatment designed to treat decay and damage deep in the interior portion of the tooth - the canals or channels where the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues are located. Root canal therapy uses special techniques and tools to treat deep decay in the tooth central portion so tooth loss can be avoided.
Today’s root canal procedures use advanced approaches and special pain management techniques for optimal outcomes and little to no discomfort during the procedure. First, the tooth is numbed using a local anesthetic, then the tooth is drilled to enable the dentist to reach the deeper pulp portion of the tooth. Special instruments are used to carefully remove the damaged tissue, then the area is carefully cleaned, sealed and filled. Once the filling has hardened, the tooth is prepared for a crown, a snug-fitting covering that helps protect the tooth and hide any resulting discoloration. An impression is made of the tooth and sent to the lab where the crown will be made, then a temporary crown is placed over the tooth to protect it while the permanent crown is being made.
No, there are other endodontic procedures designed to treat the interior portion of the tooth and the root. Root canal is the most commonly performed endodontic procedure, treating deep decay so patients can retain their natural teeth and avoid extractions whenever possible.
Except when a tooth is very badly damaged or threatening the health of other teeth, it’s generally always better to preserve a natural tooth than to pull it. Natural teeth support a balanced bite, preventing uneven wear that can lead to decay. Plus, when a tooth is lost, the teeth on either side begin to lean and shift, causing their roots to become loose and eventually leading to additional tooth loss. Finally, preserving a natural tooth is almost always less costly than having a tooth pulled and replacing it with a bridge, denture or dental implant.