When decay reaches the interior portion of a tooth, it causes an infection. The dental pulp inside a tooth consists of nerves and other living cells, making an internal infection incredibly painful. The tooth can be saved, and the infection stopped, with endodontic therapy. A root canal removes the infected dental pulp and fills the tooth with a fresh substance.
Root Canals Heal and Preserve Teeth
While many patients fear root canals, their legendary painfulness is a fabrication. In reality, root canals are identical to fillings (simply treating the interior rather than the exterior) and cause no more discomfort. When given anesthesia, the patient will not feel a root canal. After treatment, the tooth will be devoid of nerves and will not feel pain again. In this way, root canals are much more a relief than a burden.
Root canals can also be necessary in the case of serious trauma to a tooth, through repeated restoration or physical damage. Once the tooth pulp is compromised, the problem may move to the root tip and affect the surrounding bone. Root canals stop this from happening to prevent the need for tooth extraction, preserving the natural tooth. Catching the need for endodontic therapy as soon as possible will allow for simpler treatment. Monitor teeth for signs like:
- Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet
- Sharp pain
- Swelling around the tooth
- Pain when biting or putting pressure on teeth
- An unexplainable bad taste in the mouth
…It’s also possible that your tooth may be infected and not exhibiting symptoms. Schedule regular appointments so that we may keep an eye on your mouth.
Your Root Canal Procedure
The basic steps of a root canal involve:
- Removal of infected tooth pulp. Your dentist drills a tiny hole in the lingual (tongue-facing) side of your tooth and removes tooth pulp through this hole.
- X-rays. Throughout endodontic treatment, we take x-rays to ensure the tooth is completely clean of pulp/infection.
- Filling. The treated tooth is filled with dental cement and sealed off.
- Healing. After treatment, the area will be uncomfortable. Get plenty of rest and follow aftercare instructions to ensure the root canal is a success.
- Crown placement. While this is not necessary for every tooth, molars that have had root canals will need crowns withstand biting forces.
Root canals should not give you pause. If you need endodontic treatment, get in touch with our practice as soon as possible.