Root Canal Therapy or endotontic therapy refers to the specialized dental procedure of removing infected pulp from a tooth and filling it with an inert material. It is a method that prevents the further spread of infection and the possibility of that tooth falling out.
Root Canal Therapy is recommended in instances where an abscess (a pocket of pus that forms at the tip of the tooth's root) becomes visible. This is a sign that there is damage to the tooth's pulp. This infection is generally a result of a deep cavity or a cracked tooth in which the pulp has become exposed to bacteria. If the pulp is damaged beyond repair it essentially means that the tooth has died. Therefore root canal therapy is a way to avoid tooth extraction while repairing the esthetic look of the tooth through dental restorations such as a crown.
The completion of root canal therapy requires one to three visits to the dentist. The first step to root canal treatment is the numbing of the affected tooth and the use of a rubber dam. A rubber dam is placed around the affected tooth and its purpose is to prevent saliva which contains bacteria from re-contaminating the tooth while the treatment is performed.
Following that the root canal treatment begins and a small hole is drilled into the affected tooth. This is done to give access to the pulp chamber of the tooth to the dentist. The placing of the hole varies between back teeth (hole is made on the chewing surface of the tooth) and front teeth (hole is made on the tooth's backside.)
From this point the tooth is cleaned out and any bacteria toxins nerve tissue and related debris within the tooth are removed. The cleaning process extends the entire length of the tooth's root canal(s) but not beyond. Following the cleaning portion of the root canal procedure is the filling in and sealing up of the tooth's root's interior with root canal filling material usually gutta percha (a natural rubber). The hole that was drilled in order for access to the tooth's root is then sealed with the placing of a filling.