Regular dental cleanings are important for the health of your teeth because they remove the plaque and tartar that brushing and flossing miss. The bacteria present in plaque can be very harmful to teeth and, if left to remain, can break down the teeth enamel and cause cavities. These cavities, then, if left untreated, can progress deeper into the tooth, possibly causing extensive damage to the tooth structure. When the decay reaches or threatens the pulp of the tooth, a root canal treatment becomes necessary to save the tooth.
A root canal procedure removes the decayed pulp from the central part of the tooth. The tooth canal is then cleaned, reshaped, and refilled with a strengthening filler. This treatment saves the tooth from further infection and possibly requiring extraction and restores its strength and functionality.
A root canal has something of an infamous reputation as it is commonly known as a particularly painful and unpleasant procedure. However, anesthesia is administered before any work is done to ensure that the patient is as comfortable as possible. The dentist will begin the procedure by using a dental dam to isolate the tooth. She will then open the tooth in order to access and remove the infected or dead dental pulp. Once all the decay has been removed, the tooth is cleaned, both inside and out, as well as within any cracks. The dentist will then reshape the canal and fill it with a special biocompatible filling material to allow the tooth to retain its structural integrity. The opening in the top of the tooth is normally closed with a dental crown.