Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is a procedure used to save a tooth that has an irreversibly diseased or injured pulp. First an opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber, then the tooth’s pulp is removed. After the pulp chamber and root canal system have been thoroughly disinfected, the roots are filled with a special material that will prevent bacterial growth.
The pulp of a tooth contains nerves, blood vessels and specialized cells that help repair the tooth from the inside. A deep cavity or crack in a tooth can lead to an infection or injury to the tooth’s pulp. If the tissue inside the tooth dies, the tooth becomes a cave in which bacteria can multiply unchecked by the body’s immune system. The bacteria and products of infection will exit through the tips of the tooth’s roots causing destruction of the bone and tissue surrounding the tooth. Without treatment, a tooth infection can become unbearably painful or even life threatening. When an injured tooth cannot repair itself the tooth should either have root canal therapy or be extracted.
What are the signs that root canal therapy is needed?
- Severe tooth pain while chewing
- Your tooth pain wakes you up at night
- Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time.
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- Loose or mobile teeth
- Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth
- Foul taste or odor
Not all teeth with damaged pulp will require root canal therapy. Sometimes the injury is reversible. Unfortunately, reversible infections usually involve some pain while the tooth heals. Don’t wait to see if the pain goes away, get your tooth evaluated. Dr. Roger or Dr. Brian may be able to ease the pain and increase your odds for avoiding a root canal.
Why save the tooth?
Why don’t we just pull the tooth? A missing tooth can create a series of problems that can greatly affect the comfort and function of your chewing. Missing teeth also have an impact on your appearance and speech.
What to expect after
It is not unusual to have some discomfort after a root canal procedure. If you were in intense pain prior to the treatment you will most likely feel much better immediately afterwards. Throbbing or a dull ache around the area is normal and usually tapers off rapidly (within a few days). Generally, after the area surrounding the tooth heals, a tooth that has received root canal therapy feels just like any other tooth.
Sometimes more than one visit
Root canal therapy cannot always be performed in one visit either due to the condition of the tooth or the length of time for the procedure. If more than one visit is necessary a temporary filling will be placed to cover the opening in the tooth between visits. It is extremely important to keep your appointments to complete the root canal therapy.
Save the tooth with a root canal keep it with a crown
To protect the strength of the tooth a crown is placed. A root-canaled tooth is not receiving any nourishment from inside the tooth, over time this will cause the tooth to become more brittle. Often a special reinforcement of the root called a “post” is used in addition to a crown.