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Simdoctor - Sistema para clínicas e doutores

Root Canal

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What is a Root Canal?

The root canal is the narrow passage in a root through which nerves and blood vessels enter the tooth. Tooth pulpis formed by the central area of the tooth and the root canals. The tooth pulp consists of connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels, which nourishes the tooth.

When the tooth matures, the tooth pulp can be removed without complications, because the matured tooth is also nourished by a blood supply that surrounds the tooth. The treatment in which the tooth pulp is removed and the root canals are cleaned and filled is popularly known as root canal treatment.

When is a Root Canal Treatment necessary?

Also known as endodontic treatment, a root canal treatment is necessary when nerves and blood vessels from the tooth pulp chamber and root canals are infected. When this happens, they cause pain, and need to be removed by an endodontist, a specialist in root canal. This infection might be caused by decay or an injury affecting the root of the tooth.

Extensive restorative works, such as Crown Replacement, might also lead to aroot canal treatment.A root canal treatment removes the infected pulp, treats infection, cleans the area and fills the empty canals with a cement type material. The patient will probably lose the infected tooth, if the treatment is not done.


When a root canalis infected, the patient experiences pain, which might appear spontaneously or in temperature changes, such as with hot drinks. Pain is caused by pressure of gases produced by decomposing nerves and blood vessels. The tooth may also become tender while chewing.

Other signs such as swelling, broken or discolored teeth, even without pain might also indicate that a root canal treatment will be necessary. To determine if the treatment should be done, the dentist will make tests placing hot or cold substances, touching the area and also by taking X-rays. 

The Root Canal Treatment

By drilling the tooth with the infected root, the dentist will create access to the pulp chamber. All pulp will be removed. The root canals will be measured, in order to see how long the canals are and to evaluate how much material should be used to fill the canals after the treatment. In case of severe infection, pus might accumulate in the area. Sometimes, the tooth should remain open in order to drain out the pus. After that, the root canal and pulp chamber will be reshaped and cleaned with an antiseptic solution.

Finally, the area will be filled and sealed. In some cases, a root canal treatment is not enough and the infection remains in the area. In this situation, an Apicectomy is necessary. This procedure removes a small part of the apex of the root. After the endodontist is sure there is no remaining infection, he will then completely seal the root canal with a filler and compact it to make sure there are no spaces in which could enter air in the root canal.

Is it painful?

Under a root canal treatment, a local anesthesia will be used, in order to minimize pain and discomfort. Following the root canal procedure, over-the-counter medications can be taken. In case of severe infection, the dentist might also prescribe an antibiotic, in order to prevent the infection from spreading through the bone surrounding the tooth.

When infection spreads over, an abscess might be formed. An abscessis when pus is confined in an area, affecting nerves and blood vessels. These dead tissues decompose and become pus. An abscessmight be caused by decay and causes swelling and severe pain.

Final Results from Root Treatment

Root canal treatment can save a tooth from being extracted. The root canal treatment might take from one to several visits, depending on many aspects such as level of infection and number and shape of roots. Incisors and canines have one root each, pre-molars have one or two roots and molar teeth have two or three roots. Each root has one root canal. From 2 to 3 days following the procedure, the tooth will be sore and chewing over treated area should be avoided.

Discomfort after the procedure is usually proportional to level of tooth infection. In many cases it might require a Crown Replacement, in order to provide full tooth restoration and preventing from further complications. It should be done within a month of the root canal, especially because temporary fillings are not meant to last. A root canal treatment is usually successful and able to save a tooth from being extracted. However, there is a possibility of a root canal being missed or not being fully cleaned. Some of them are difficult to be located and the tooth remains infected. In these cases, the root canal treatment should be repeated.

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