A root canal is a dental procedure which removes the pulp or “nerves” inside the tooth. This is done in cases of pain, infection, or even deep cavities that advance into the pulp. The pulp tissue is vascular meaning it has a blood supply. This blood supply provides the proper nourishment for the tooth during growth and development. After the tooth is fully formed and is in function, the blood supply is no longer needed; this is why it can be removed. Contrary to what most people think, root canals do not remove the tooth’s roots, however, the thin nerves which travel down the inside the roots leaving the roots intact.
Root canals are performed using local anesthetics just like with dental fillings. A barrier is paced around the tooth to ensure proper isolation and a small opening is made through the tooth to access the nerve. The nerve tissue is removed using small, thin rotary instruments and the inside is flushed and disinfected. The chambers that once housed the nerves are sealed with a thermoplastic material and a filling or crown is placed to cover and support the tooth.
Any discomfort afterwards is managed with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetominophen.