As vice president of Oak Ridge Dental Group in Toms River, New Jersey, Dr. Christopher Lillo has offered comprehensive dental care to patients since 1995. Dr. Christopher Lillo focuses largely on molar work and has performed numerous root canal procedures over the course of his career.
Although decay of a tooth’s crown is typically treatable with a simple filling, infected pulp is much more dire. As the infection deepens, it threatens to spread beyond the tooth to nearby soft tissues and cause a dangerous abscess. Root canal treatment sometimes allows a dentist to remove the infected material and thus save the tooth which otherwise would require extraction.
A root canal procedure begins with the application of local anesthesia, which numbs the area. In fact, many patients find that keeping the mouth open for the entire procedure is the most uncomfortable element of the oft-maligned root canal. The dentist may then continue to prepare by introducing a rubber dam to surround and protect the tooth from bacteria.
The dentist begins the procedure itself by drilling a hole to provide access to the tooth. He or she then removes the infected pulp and the nerve tissue using a series of increasingly wide files, while periodic application of water or sodium hypochlorite clears removed material away. The dentist must then seal the tooth, which some dentists prefer to do after the tooth has had a week to heal. Healing takes place under a temporary filling, which keeps food and saliva out of the drilled hole.
The procedure is completed with the application of a crown, which offers strength to the hollowed-out tooth. This final step prevents the deadened tooth from cracking and allows the patient to use the tooth normally.