It used to be that when a tooth's pulp – the soft tissue inside the tooth that holds blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue – was damaged or infected, the tooth would have to be removed. Root canal therapy is a method your dentist can use to correct the problem and save your tooth.
Root Canal Therapy Works Like This:
- First, your dentist makes an opening in the crown, or top, of the tooth to expose the pulp chamber.
- Then the dentist removes the infected or damaged pulp and cleans out the root canal or canals. The dentist may put medication into the tooth to clean out any infection. Root canal therapy can require one to three visits to the dentist. The dentist may put a temporary filling in the crown to protect the tooth between visits, or he might leave the tooth open for a period to allow drainage.
- Next, the dentist will remove the temporary filling, clean out the pulp chamber and root canal and fill those areas.
- The last step is usually affixing a gold or porcelain crown. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in root canal work.