Endodontic therapy, also known as a root canal (therapy), is a treatment of the tooth aimed at clearing infection, as well as protecting the tooth from subsequent infections. The treatment is carried out in the pulp of the tooth.
The term "root canal" when meaning endodontic therapy is, in fact, wrong. Root canals are part of a tooth, the hollows within a tooth where the nerve tissue, blood vessels, and some other cells are located. Root canal is a place in a tooth, while endodontic therapy is a dental procedure. However, the term "root canal" has become widely used with the meaning of endodontic therapy.
Endodontic therapy involves the complete removal of everything that lies in the root canal. The hollow area is then cleaned, shaped and decontaminated. Miniscule files and irrigation solutions are used. An inert filling, such as gutta percha, fills up the hollow, along with a eugenol-based cement. After endodontic therapy the tooth is dead. The patient will no longer feel any pain on that tooth because the nerve tissue has been taken out and the infection has been eliminated.
Patients are frequently fearful of undergoing endodontic therapy. This fear is unwarranted as the procedure, when carried out by a trained dental surgeon, is relatively painless.
Endodontic therapy (root canal therapy) saves the tooth and prevents further infection and pain.
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Without treatment the infection will spread and the tooth will eventually loosen and fall out. Some patients may prefer to have the tooth pulled out, especially if it hurts a lot. However, extracting a tooth may cause the surrounding teeth to become crooked. If your teeth are crooked you cannot usually manage a good bite. Endodontic therapy will usually stop the tooth from falling out and eliminate the pain.
Dentists say endodontic therapy requires three sessions. A dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp (root canal) is called an endodontist. Endodontic therapy might be carried out by an endodontist or a dental surgeon. He/she will take out the diseased pulp. The whole area around the root canal (the area where the pulp was) will be cleaned and sealed. The procedure is relatively painless as the patient is given a local anesthetic.