Why would I need a root canal in the first place?
Root canal treatment may be necessary for several reasons including: deep decay; repeated dental procedures on a tooth including re-decay around old fillings or crowns; cracks/chips, and other trauma to teeth — resulting in injury to the pulp.
What is a root canal exactly?
Root Canal Treatment (RCT), or endodontic treatment ("endo" – inside; "dont" – tooth) is used to treat a tooth and alleviate the pain that is associated with damage to the pulp, which is the inner most layer of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. During a traditional root canal procedure, your dentist or endodontist (root canal specialist) will use local anesthesia to numb the tooth. A small opening is made by drilling into the back of a front tooth, or the biting surface of a back tooth, to access the pulp. The inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the root canal system, inside of the tooth, is cleaned, shaped and disinfected. It is then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Finally the tooth is restored with a filling or crown and a successful procedure ensures that a tooth continues in normal function.
How is a traditonal root canal different from a laser assisted root canal?
According to an AAE position paper, the use of lasers in aiding root canal disinfection is more promising than in root canal preparation. Lasers can be used to remove the dental pulp and organic debris, and to even modify (shape and clean) the dentinal walls of the root canals. Once preparation is complete and the root canal is sealed (usually with gutta-percha), the laser may be used to soften and mold the sealant for the root canal system.
Lasers can target bacteria and infected material with greater accuracy, at times preserving more of the healthy tooth structure.There are reports of less bleeding during root canal surgical procedures and reduced post-operative discomfort and infection.
Also, a recent scientific study comparing the efficacy of laser-activated irrigation of root canals with conventional irrigation to disinfect them found favorable results for the laser technology.