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Root Canal Treatment (Endodontics)

Root canal treatment is needed when decay in the tooth has reached the nerve.  The nerve becomes infected and abscessed. Some patients have a preconceived notion that a root canal is uncomfortable and that pulling the tooth would be easier. This is not true.  Root canal techniques have become very advanced and are virtually painless.  If a tooth is pulled instead, there will be other complications.

Basically, a root canal consists of cleaning out the decay and the infected nerve of that tooth, then filling in the canal and the tooth.  This can be done in either one or two appointments.  Now, without the nerve, the tooth will become brittle.  It no longer has a blood supply to the tooth and it dries out.  It will eventually break if not covered with a crown.

Before the tooth can be crowned, the dentist usually must build the tooth up to support the crown.  This is necessary if a large amount of decay had to be removed or if the tooth was broken.  On molars, the procedure to do this is called a buildup.  A buildup is like putting the largest filling possible on the tooth.  Front teeth may need a post to stabilize the crown.  A post is inserted into the canal of the tooth.  It will prevent the tooth from breaking and give it strength for biting.