Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of the tooth has been subjected to some type of trauma. A break in a tooth can allow bacteria to permeate the tooth’s interior impacting the nerve; or deep dental decay may be the source of the problem. And while there may be no immediate discomfort, eventually decay or infection could become a problem. Patients often experience sensitivity to hot or cold; some feel pain only when biting down on the affected tooth.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Also referred to as endodontic therapy, root canal therapy is the process where an access point allows the dentist to remove the contents of the pulp chamber. The contents of the interior of the tooth’s chambers include the nerve (which is no longer needed once the tooth has erupted), blood vessels, and tissue.
The only other option is to extract the tooth. If a root canal is not performed, the bacteria can cause infection or an abscess to develop. Failure to treat can result in complications such as swelling in the face, neck, or head; or infection can travel to other parts of the body.
Since pain is not the only indicator that a root canal is needed, other symptoms to watch for include sensitivity; discoloration of the affected tooth; swelling in the jaw, face, or gums; or a sore resembling a pimple that will not go away.
The Root Canal Process
A dental x-ray will identify the number of roots involved and their position. It is imperative that all roots are treated. The area is anesthetized, a rubber dam is placed around the tooth to keep it dry, and an access point is created to allow for endodontic files to clean out the root’s interiors. The roots are flushed continually to eliminate debris.
Once the root canal is completed, your dentist may elect to prepare the tooth for immediate sealing of the access point or may wait a week or so to make sure any infection has been successfully resolved.
The final step before sealing the opening is to fill the interior of the canals with a rubber compound called gutta percha.
Depending on the tooth involved, the access point can be sealed with a composite restoration; in many cases a dental crown is the best option.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our team today.