What Is Gutta-Percha And Why Is It Used During A Root Canal?

When a tooth has a deep dental cavity that allows bacteria to infect the pulp inside the tooth, you'll need to have a root canal performed on the tooth in order to eliminate the infection. This procedure removes all of the pulp inside of the tooth, including the pulp that's inflamed and infected. At the end of the procedure, dentists replace the missing pulp with gutta-percha. To learn what gutta-percha is and why dentists use it during a root canal, read on.

What Is Gutta-Percha?

Gutta-percha is similar to rubber, but it's harder and more brittle. It's made from the sap of a species of tree that grows in Malaysia. It's harvested by cutting down the trees, waiting for the sap to harden, and disinfecting the sap so that it doesn't introduce any bacteria into your mouth during dental work.

Like rubber, gutta-percha becomes more flexible and flows easily when it's heated. It hardens when it cools back down. This makes it a good material for replacing the pulp in your tooth after a root canal. Since heated gutta-percha flows easily, it will spread around the inside of your tooth to fill all of the crannies. When it cools, it will harden and become stuck in place.

Why Do Dentists Use Gutta-Percha During a Root Canal?

The main reason why dentists use gutta-percha to fill a tooth after removing the pulp is to keep out saliva. Gutta-percha is waterproof like rubber, so saliva can't flow through it. The saliva in your mouth contains bacteria that could lead to your tooth becoming reinfected if the saliva reaches the tooth roots. Replacing the pulp in the tooth with gutta-percha stops this from happening.

Gutta-percha also makes the tooth more durable. Removing all of the pulp inside the tooth during a root canal will make it hollow. Since gutta-percha becomes very hard when it cools down, it provides extra structural strength for your tooth, making it less likely to break when you use it to chew.

After replacing the pulp in your tooth with gutta-percha, your dentist will cap it with a sealer made out of an adhesive cement. This keeps the gutta-percha inside your tooth where it can provide strength and prevent saliva from getting in.

Overall, gutta-percha's strength and ability to flow when heated make it the perfect material for replacing all of the pulp inside your tooth after it has been removed during a root canal. It helps prevent the tooth from becoming reinfected after the initial infection has been removed, and it also makes the tooth stronger. A root canal allows you to save a tooth that's badly infected, and gutta-percha helps make sure that the tooth will last for a long time after the procedure.