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A root canal treatment, also known as RCT, is a treatment that involves removal of the nerves and pulp inside the hollow area of the tooth’s root portion. The inside of the root is then thoroughly cleaned and filled with a semi-permanent dental filling and sealed off.

A root canal treatment can take anywhere from one to four visits that are approximately thirty minutes to one hour each visit. During the root canal treatment procedure, the tooth that is treated is numbed. Dr. Steve Kim achieves this by numbing first with a topical gel. The topical gel will numb the tissue or gum. In that same spot, Dr. Steve Kim will then numb with lidocaine or other local anesthetic.

root2When the patient is completely numbed, Dr. Steve Kim gains access to the hollow areas of the tooth’s root by drilling a small hole. When Dr. Steve Kim is able to gain access to the hollow areas, he uses small files that are able to enter the root and clean them. When each root that that is being treated for a root canal treatment is cleaned, it is filled with a semi-permanent filling and temporarily sealed off. It is important for any doctor performing a root canal treatment to clean the roots completely and fill it completely with the semi-permanent down to the apex or tip of the root.

When dentists do not clean the root completely or fill the tooth completely to the apex or tip of the root, then there is chance the root canal treatment can fail and an infection can happen inside the root and/or around it. In this situation, the patient may need to see an endodontist, a root canal treatment specialist to redo the root canal treatment.

After any root canal treatment procedure, it is normal if patients feel some pain. The pain can be treated with over the counter pain medication. Sometimes the doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication if necessary, but this is not common.

There are multiple reasons for a root canal treatment:

1) Deep Decay

When a small cavity grows and reaches the root, a filling is not an option anymore. A root canal treatment is necessary when decay has penetrated the hollow area of the root.

2) Infection

Sometimes an infection of the nerve is found inside the root. This type of infection is not a cause of tooth decay, and an infection inside the root may happen without any explanation. This type of infection requires a root canal treatment. Inflammation and infection inside the root canal area and also the area surrounding the tooth may warrant a need for a root canal treatment.

3) Pain

There are patients who experience pain or extreme sensitivity to cold/ heat and whose condition does not involve a visible decay or infection. A root canal treatment involves removing the nerve inside the root of the tooth and can be the solution to the patient’s pain or sensitivity.

4) Pre-Crown Restoration

This is not always the case!!! But, sometimes a root canal treatment may be recommended prior to getting a crown. The reason for this recommendation is because as the doctor preps the tooth to sit a crown, he may get close to the nerve area or may have to touch the nerve. A root canal treatment will prevent future pain and/or sensitivity.

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