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Root Canal Dentistry in Pittsburgh

With Dentist Dr. Dan Rairigh

Man with healthy attractive smile

Root canal therapy is performed when a tooth is threatened by current or inevitable future infection. To cure the infection and save the tooth, root canal therapy is performed by a dentist.

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy (endodontics) is the process of removing the dental pulp (nerves and blood vessels) within a tooth, measuring, cleaning, shaping, and disinfecting the root canal space prior to placing a filling.

A tooth that requires root canal therapy can range from having no pain to very severe pain and swelling. Often when a tooth reaches the point where a root canal is required, the only alternative is an extraction. With today’s advancements, root canal therapy can usually be performed painlessly and quickly.

The treatment may take 1- 2 or more visits depending on the infection present and the complexity of the treatments. Antibiotics may or may not be necessary, as sometimes a root canal needs to be completed without an actual infection being present (also known as vital root canal therapy).

Root canal therapy may be necessary for following reasons

  • Abscessed tooth
  • Cavity that has entered the nerve space
  • Trauma that’s causing chronic pain and inflammation (pulpitis)
  • A fracture or break that has damaged the dental pulp
  • A deep cavity that’s caused damage to a nerve
  • An X-ray shows bone damage due to pulpal death (necrosis)

What is involved with root canal procedure?

First, the patient is numbed thoroughly. After the patient is comfortable, a protective device called a rubber dam is placed (like a safety net) to protect the patient from swallowing anything and keep the tooth isolated from contaminates in the saliva. If present, any cavities are thoroughly removed. Then, a small hole is made to expose the dental pulp. The canals where the nerves and blood vessels in the tooth are found are located. The number of canals vary depending on the tooth and that particular patient’s anatomy. Typically, front teeth have 1 canal, premolars have 1-2, and molars have 3-4. After these canals are located, they are measured, cleaned, shaped, and disinfected to allow for a permanent root sealing material to be placed. This is typically done with a material called gutta-percha. After the permanent seal is placed, an X-ray is taken to verify successful root canal therapy. Usually, the tooth then requires a core (a new filling to replace missing tooth structure) and a crown to strengthen the tooth to allow long term success and prevent fracture and leakage of the permanent root seal.

Often root canal therapy can be completed by a general dentist, but sometimes a specialist completes the treatment if the tooth has badly curved roots or had a previous root canal treatment. Root canal therapy when performed properly has a high success rate of over 90%!

More Questions about Root Canal Therapy?

Contact us today by calling 412-854-2310 and find out more about services provided by Dr. Dan Rairigh’s office in the Pittsburgh area.