I found this great video on YouTube that shows an animation of how a root canal is done by dentist. Sometimes when I am asked to explain what a root canal is. But as they say an image is a thousand words. An animation is even much more!
The video shows two uncovered teeth: the premolar on the left has a healthy pulp tissue with nerves and blood vessels; the molar on the right has its pulp infected. The infection was caused by either a very deep cavity or trauma, and we see that it has gone beyond the ends of the roots.
The first step of the root canal is to access the infected pulp. Then the procedure consists of cleaning all of the pulp tissue contained in each of the canals. We see 2 canals here, but a molar actually contains 3 to 4 canals (sometimes even more!)
After the inside of the tooth is clean and disinfected, each canal is sealed with filling material so that the infection doesn’t appear again.
Posts are placed, followed by a crown because a tooth that has had root canal is more fragile and needs support to function properly without breaking.
In China, the Shanghai zoo has designed a special four-foot (1.2 meters) long toothbrush to clean the teeth of its hippopotamuses. The zookeepers put on a public show three times a week so visitors can watch while they do oral care with their three hippos. That job could be very challenging and unpredictable!
If your doctor has prescribed you bisphosphonates, especially if they must be injected intravenously, it is important to tell your dentist because, in this case, it is contra-indicated to proceed with any surgical treatment in the mouth, including extractions and dental implants.
Bisphosphonates are drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass in certain medical conditions. Doctors prescribe it in tablets for women in menopause or pre-menopause. Bisphosphonate tablets are also indicated for people with Paget’s disease (misshaped bones).
These drugs can also be injected intravenously during therapy of bone metastases of breast cancer. In this case, some patients may develop in their mouths a condition called osteonecrosis. This condition is described by bone death following a blood circulation problem.
The link between osteonecrosis and bisphosphonates is not yet well understood. It is important then to inform your dentist if you take these drugs especially if intravenously. Your dentist can then check for any signs of osteonecrosis in the mouth and treat if needed. Furthermore, it’s strongly believed that keeping a good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of getting osteonecrosis of the jaw.
The true precursor to the modern dental chair was constructed by James Beall Morrison in 1867. The base of the chair was made of iron, and the chair itself boasted both a headrest and a footrest. Coupled with a foot-powered dental drill, this chair allowed dentistry to become less of an art and more of a science.
Not at all. The success rate of a root canal is about 85%, which means in most cases a root canal last for a lifetime. There are circumstances where a tooth with a root canal becomes infected again which might cause pain to the patient. In that situation the root canal can be retreated.
What is a retreatment? It’s a procedure of redoing the root canal by re-cleaning the inside of the roots, disinfecting and obturating each canal. Some teeth may require an apectomy instead, which is a microsurgery used to remove the infected tip of the root. Modern techniques of restatements and apectomy work well.
In rare cases where a tooth is fractured all the way to the root, extraction is the only thing that can be done. A dental implant, a bridge or a partial can later replace the tooth.
Not anymore. Years before a root canal was done by hand with small instruments that the dentist had to carefully manipulate. Sometimes the technique was so long that the dental assistant fell asleep!
Nowadays, with mechanically rotary instruments, root canal treatment may take between one and two hours in one single appointment. The length of an appointment depends on the condition of the tooth and the number of canals it has. Nevertheless if there are complications, additional appointments might be needed.
In cases where we have severe infection, your dentist or endodontist might chose to place a drug inside your tooth to help disinfect the interior of the roots, and then finish the root canal treatment a few days later. But if there is no infection or no complications, the procedure can be completed in one single appointment.