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Root Canal Treatment
Endodontic — or root canal — treatment is
Illustration of a cross section of a molar tooth. Root canal treatment, root canal pretreatment.
necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the
lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gingival tissues.
Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.
Endodontists specialize in saving natural teeth and in performing root canals. The top diagram shows a healthy molar tooth; in the diagram on the right, an abscessed tooth with a collection of infected material or pus. An abscess can occur when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected and goes untreated.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the canal, a channel inside the root, then fills and seals the space. Afterward, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.