At the core of your teeth there is soft tissue – the “pulp” – that fills the heart of the tooth and runs down through the center of the roots. If the pulp inside the root canals of a tooth becomes inflamed or infected, it can be extremely painful and possibly lead to an abscess.
Inflammation or infection can happen for a variety of reasons: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Oftentimes, an injury to a tooth can cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. Endodontic treatment, also called root canal treatment, is necessary to treat damaged pulp.
After a consultation to determine if root canal therapy is the best course of action, Dr. Duggan will administer local anesthetic. Once the tooth is profoundly numb, Dr. Duggan will place a small protective sheet – a “dental dam” – over the area to isolate the tooth. This protective barrier keeps our chemicals from entering your mouth, but more importantly, it prevents the saliva and bacteria inside your mouth from entering the tooth so that it can be cleaned, shaped, and disinfected.
Working with his assistant under the surgical microscope and xenon lighting, Dr. Duggan will make an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are then used to clean the pulp from the internal anatomy and to shape the space for the filling material.
After the space is cleaned and shaped, Dr. Duggan will fill the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha.” The gutta-percha is placed with an epoxide resin to ensure a complete sealing of the root canals. Following the sealing of the roots, Dr. Duggan will place a hard restoration in the tooth to further seal off the root canal system from the oral cavity.
After the treatment with Dr. Duggan, you may need to return to your dentist to have a crown – or other restoration – placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. If the treatment is successful, you should see regeneration of the missing bone one to two years after treatment.