Monday, February 17, 2014

The Three Steps of Root Canal Therapy

Drill, clean, and fill; these are steps in root canal therapy oversimplified. Dentists perform this invasive procedure when the decay has burrowed deep into the tooth, affecting the vessels and nerve endings at the root of the tooth. This usually happens when a patient leaves tooth decay untreated for a long time. 

Removing the decay from an affected tooth starts by drilling a hole. Dentists use a small drill with a tip no bigger than the surface area of the tooth’s top crown. The hole is made either at the back of the tooth (for front teeth) or the top crown (for premolars and molars). 

Once a clear path to the abscess has been created, a dentist uses an endodontic file to scrape the chambers clear of the decay. The dentist uses various file sizes, starting with the smallest file, a 10-K file. Throughout the cleaning procedure, the dentist will use larger files to scrape more abscess out of the canals. 

After the last of the abscess has been cleaned, the dentist will plug the hole with a rubbery seal known as a gutta-percha. The name technically refers to the genus of plants from which the seal is derived. Gutta-percha is widely used in dentistry because it’s naturally inert and doesn’t react negatively with the human body.


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