Eliminate Infection and Save Your Tooth with Root Canal Therapy
As daunting as the phrase “root canal” may be, it can be helpful to understand what it means to actually undergo this dental procedure. Knowing what’s ahead helps make the process more bearable.
The space within the root of each tooth is called a “root canal.” Within that canal is dental pulp which consists of soft tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. Tooth decay or trauma can cause damage to your dental pulp which results in infection that, left untreated, can spread to the bone around your tooth, resulting in tooth loss.
Of course, you always have the option to have your tooth pulled if it is damaged and have it replaced with a dental implant but, in many cases, patients want to do everything they can to save their original teeth. Root canals make that possible by eliminating the pain you’re experiencing.
The Root Canal Therapy Procedure
The root canal procedure can be completed in a matter of hours, but because root canal therapy often involves the placement of a crown over the tooth in question, a second trip to the dentist may be necessary for the crown to be put in place.
To save the tooth, your dentist will first remove the infected dental pulp. The area that holds the pulp is then cleaned and irrigated with special solutions to rid the space of debris and to disinfect the area. The pulp area will then be shaped to hold a specialized filler material that will protect your tooth from further infection and reduce tooth sensitivity.
Once the root canal is cleaned, filled, and restored, your tooth is capped with a crown that protects the mended root canal and looks and functions like a normal tooth.
Why Root Canals Are Necessary
Teeth are not solid. Each tooth is made of pulp that contains soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels that keep your tooth healthy and alive. This pulp is what allows you to feel pain and have sensitivity to hot and cold food or beverages. Tooth decay and trauma can damage the pulp and cause an infection. And, without treatment, the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels die.
A tooth’s pulp and nerve is not important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has fully emerged from the gums. If the root canal treatment is not performed, pus builds up at the root tip and the infection of the pulp can spread to the surrounding bone. This results in pain and swelling, an abscess, and your tooth would likely have to be removed.
Root canal therapy has a high rate of success. Many teeth that undergo the procedure can be saved permanently. And, because the crown or filling that is put into place upon the completion of the procedure is customized to match the shade of your surrounding teeth, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to notice that you had anything done to your tooth.
Pain typically precedes a root canal because the tooth that is being treated is infected. Most often a prescription of antibiotics is necessary for three days to one week days prior to treatment to ensure the successful anesthetization of the infected tooth. If this prescription is followed, the root canal procedure will be virtually pain free.
Neglecting to get a root canal when deep tooth decay is detected can cause serious damage and infection to the nerves and vessels inside the tooth. Without treatment, infection will spread, bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, and the tooth may fall out. Even then, you can still experience pain and, in some of the most severe cases that go untended, it’s necessary for the patient to seek emergency dental attention to deal with the intolerable pain.
The only alternative to root canals are usually extraction of the tooth, which – if not replaced with a dental implant – can cause surrounding teeth to shift crookedly, resulting in an irregular bite. Though an extraction is certainly less costly than a root canal, the space left behind will require a dental implant or a bridge, which ultimately do have a higher price tag than root canal therapy. Keeping your original teeth is always the best choice, and root canals make this possible.
How Do I Know If I Need a Root Canal?
When you have a toothache, there is a good chance that you are dealing with a major cavity or an infection that has escalated to the point of needing a root canal. See a dentist if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Severe tooth pain while chewing
- Tooth pain that wakes you at night
- Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, and the sensitivity lingers for some time
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth
When you are experiencing a toothache, the nerves of your tooth are irritated or there is inflammation within the tooth canal. A toothache causes some of the most uncomfortable pain that a person can experience and, over time, can become so persistent that not even a moment of chewing or drinking is necessary to elicit pain.
For a tooth with nerves that are already dead, symptoms that a problem is present can include tooth discoloration, looseness, bleeding gums, and swelling. Even your face can begin to swell. Your dentist needs to determine the cause of these symptoms. In some cases, gum disease is the main culprit and it is not just a root canal problem with one tooth.
Visit Dr. Shaista Najmi at Ivory Dental if you are experiencing tooth pain and to find out if root canal therapy is a necessary part of your treatment.