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Dental Glossary

Endodontic Treatment

Usually known as root canal therapy, this treatment refers to the removal of diseased or dying nerve tissue from the inside of the tooth. It does NOT mean removing a root from the tooth, and does not involve surgery. A rubber dam must be used to prevent saliva from entering the tooth. The steps of the procedure are acess (opening into the nerve chamber), debridement (removing the diseased tissue), working distance (measuring the exact length of the roots), cleaning and shaping (preparing the tooth for filling), and obturation (filling the root with an inert filling material called gutta percha). After a root canal most teeth require a foundation filling for support and a crown for strength. Root canals are about 95% successful, and are no longer the nightmare that they were in our parents' generation. Most root canals can be completed in one visit unless started in an emergency, and are amazingly comfortable.