How Is A Tooth Sealed After Root Canal Treatment?
Those in need of root canal treatment are likely going to wonder what happens afterward. Is your treated tooth going to be as good as new (or at least, as good as it was before its internal pulp became infected)? There are a few prerequisites for a tooth to be considered treated, and the actual finishing touches can vary from person to person.
Accessing the Dental Pulp
In order to remove the infected pulp inside the tooth, your dentist will need to access the tooth's internal pulp chamber. Sometimes they might expand an existing cavity (which is probably the cause of the problem in the first place) in order to reach the pulp chamber. Other times, they will create a specific access cavity in order to perform the root canal.
Cleaning and Filling
Once the infected pulp has been extracted, the tooth is irrigated and cleaned. An empty pulp chamber makes for a weak tooth, so it's packed with an appropriate filling material (usually a substance called gutta-percha). The initial cavity or access cavity is then filled. Is this the end of your root canal journey?
Your dentist will schedule a follow-up appointment to assess the treated tooth. An x-ray might be performed, allowing your dentist to examine the state of the pulp chamber, ensuring that the infection has subsided. The filling that was added after your initial treatment was only a temporary one, and this will now be replaced with something more permanent. Depending on the size of the access point and the overall structural integrity of your tooth, this might be the end of your treatment.
When there are doubts that a single filling will offer the necessary strength for your tooth, a dental crown might be required. This is a wafer-thin porcelain cap which is slipped over the tooth, creating an exact match for the natural tooth beneath it. Your dentist will advise you if you require a dental crown to complete your root canal treatment.
It might be that your need for a dental crown will not become evident until later. In some cases, the absence of the dental pulp and the presence of the filling material can result in a discoloration of the tooth. When this mismatch is too conspicuous, a dental crown can be required in order to restore the tooth to its pre-root canal shade of white. Depending on the location of the tooth, another form of restoration (such as a dental veneer) can be appropriate.
Some patients will only need a dental filling to complete their root canal, although a crown can be the best option for other patients, and the need for a crown might not be immediately obvious.
Contact a local dentist to learn more about root canals.