There are very few dental procedures that inspire as much fear as a root canal. A root canal is a procedure that removes dead or dying tissue and bacteria from the inside of a tooth. This happens when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected following an injury or severe untreated cavity.
The root canal procedure itself is somewhat complicated, but it's routine enough that most dentists perform them frequently. To do this, a dentist or endodontist must first numb the tooth. Then, they must drill into the tooth and, using a small tool, remove the infected tooth pulp. The remaining structure of the tooth is then irrigated and treated with an antimicrobial treatment. The tooth is then dried and filled with a substance called gutta percha. The dentist may next place a temporary crown on the tooth, to be replaced by a permanent crown within several weeks.
But as complicated as that sounds, a molar root canal is much more involved. There are several major differences. The first is that molars simply have more roots than other teeth - in fact, some molars can have up to six roots while other teeth may only have one or two! Worse yet, molar root canals are much finer than those on other teeth - sometimes as small as the width of a hair - making them very hard for a dentist or endodontist to locate.
Another circumstance that can complicate molar root canals is that the root canals themselves are frequently curved or bent, making it both harder for a dentist to see into the canal as well as to fill it up all the way with gutta percha. Unfortunately, even if a root canal is completely cleaned out and disinfected, if it is not completely refilled, it poses a risk of developing another infection once it is closed back up.
Furthermore, because of the positioning of the molars in the back of the mouth, it is harder for the dentist or endodontist to both see and reach the infected molar to provide treatment!
The great news is that if you do need a root canal, molar or otherwise, you are in great hands with Dr. Abelar. It’s normal to be a little nervous prior to your root canal procedure, but don’t let horror stories from friends scare you away from getting the medical attention you need.
If you have any questions or concerns, please give Dr. Abelar’s office a call at 858-866-9692.