Root Canal Therapy – Tukwila, WA
Preserving and Disinfecting Natural Teeth
One of the last lines of defense when it comes to preserving a tooth is root canal therapy (RCT). Root canals restore a tooth with severe decay from the inside out, that is, they involve removing infected nerve tissue and placing a filling material inside of the tooth. This eliminates the diseased tissues and infection, disinfects the tooth, and prevents the tooth from eroding from the inside.
Teeth typically need to be treated with RCT when:
- There is or has been an abscess on the tooth.
- Trauma or injury has caused the tooth to die.
- A large fracture or cavity is within close proximity of the dental nerve.
- The patient experiences chronic pain caused by a crack in the tooth.
Why Choose Lance Timmerman, DMD for Root Canal Therapy?
- Over 20 Years of Experience and Advanced Training
- Skilled Dental Team with a Gentle Touch
- Sedation Available for Anxious Patients
The Root Canal Treatment Process
Having a root canal is no different than most other dental treatments. It starts with a proper and complete diagnosis to determine which tooth is problematic (it isn’t always obvious) and the extent of the issue, as sometimes the damage is so significant that the tooth cannot be saved. The screening tests may include: percussion (tapping), palpation (lightly rubbing a gloved finger in the area), probing (determining pocket depth of the tissues surrounding the tooth), mobility (does it wiggle?), thermal tests, and X-ray evaluation.
After the tooth has been identified, a small hole is created on top of the tooth to give direct access to the pulp/nerve. The pulp is uncovered enough to ensure complete removal of the pulp tissue and create a path to the canal system. A file is introduced to the canal to determine its length, often with the assistance of a device called an apex locator. This approach is much more accurate at measuring canal length than just an X-ray, so if one is not used in your treatment, you should suspect inadequate care.
Cleaning and Shaping
After the length of the canal is determined, mechanical shaping of the canal is done. This is completed by using incrementally larger files. Dr. Timmerman uses a rotating file system so that the canal is cleaned and shaped precisely. In between each file, an antibacterial liquid is flushed into the system to wash away the bacteria and particles of shaved tooth. This helps to kill the infection.
Mechanical cleaning and shaping are very important, but chemical irrigation is key to disinfecting the tooth. There are many products that can be used, and Dr. Timmerman prefers a combination of materials to make sure the tooth has been disinfected as much as possible. Some bacteria are killed with certain specific methods and others are not. By using a combination, the hope is that the entire spectrum is addressed.
After a canal has been cleaned, shaped, and disinfected, it must then be filled. The term dentists use is “obturation.” A sealer (imagine caulking) coats a gutta percha “cone,” a rubber-like material that is often used at the core of golf balls (fun fact). This prevents re-infection of the root canal system by hermetically sealing the canal and gives the root of the tooth increased strength
If a tooth is treated with root canal therapy but NOT restored with a final restoration (crown, onlay, or whatever is determined as necessary), the tooth can still be lost. The hollowing out process of the therapy leaves a weaker tooth that is prone to fracture. Unprotected teeth that have had RCT can sometimes crack or break in such a way that the tooth must be extracted.
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