Details about this video.

This second video of our series explains the steps of the root canal process that tackle the task of cleaning and disinfecting the tooth.

What this video covers:

a) Cleaning the tooth's interior.

Once the tooth's access cavity has been created, the dentist can begin that aspect of the treatment process that involves removing pulp tissue and contaminates (debris and bacteria) from within the tooth's root canals.

i) Measuring the length of the canals.

As a first step, the dentist must establish the length of each of the individual root canals. That's because they want to clean the full extent of each one but not beyond. (Doing so would irritate the tissues that lie beyond the root's tip.)

As this video explains, historically this was done by way of taking an x-ray showing the position of the dentist's tools within each canal. Today, electronic devices can be used to make this measurement. A dentist might use either method or both.

ii) Cleaning and shaping the canals.

Once armed with the measurements of the root canals, the dentist can begin the task of "cleaning and shaping" each one.

  • Root canal files are used for this process. They are tiny pin-shaped instruments that are worked up and down inside a canal. (The files can either be manipulated by the dentist's fingers, or placed in a dental handpiece that makes the needed motion for them.)

    The file's action helps to both break up and remove tissue and debris. It also draws the file against the canal's walls, thus rasping off its surface layer (which is typically impregnated with contaminates).

  • As illustrated in the video, the dentist will use a series of files, each one minutely larger than the one before. And as each is put to use, the diameter of the canal becomes enlarged.

    As the video explains, this is an important aspect of cleaning the canal. It also aids with the sealing process to follow.

iii) Irrigating the tooth.

Beyond just the use of files, tooth "irrigation" also plays an important role in cleaning the interior of the tooth.

This refers to flushing the tooth out periodically during the cleaning process (such as after each file has been used) so to remove loose debris. In some cases the irrigation solution that's chosen will have properties that can help to disinfect the tooth too.

b) Deciding how much more work will be accomplished during this visit.

Just like with the steps discussed in our first video, once the dentist has completed cleansing and disinfecting the tooth's interior, a convenient stopping point has been reached. The dentist must then decide if any more work can, or should, be completed before dismissing the patient.

  • If the tooth has displayed symptoms immediately prior to this appointment, or if time constraints exist, the dentist may stop here.

    If so, they will "temporized" the tooth (place a temporary filling in the tooth's access cavity, possibly along with some type of medication. They'll then schedule the patient for the completion of their work, most likely within the next week or so.

  • With other cases, the dentist may simply proceed on with the next phase of the tooth's treatment.

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