Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is necessary when a cavity reaches all the way to the pulp. It also can be needed when there is trauma to a tooth’s nerve. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system. This is dangerous, not to mention very painful.
At Santavicca Dental Professionals we know how painful and stressful needing a root canal can be. That is why our team will happily refer you to a qualified endodontist who will help ease your pain and offer you the ideal treatment plan.
Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.
Removal used to be the only option for a tooth that had a diseased or injured pulp, which is the living tissue inside the tooth. Now, root canal therapy is the treatment of choice to cure such infections and save the tooth. By preserving the tooth, root canal therapy can prevent the problems to adjacent teeth that extraction can cause, helping maintain dental health and saving money in the long run.
Modern root canal therapy can usually be performed with little or no discomfort. A root canal is performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp, and disinfect the canals of the tooth. The only other treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled in to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy.
During a root canal, the pulp and nerves of the tooth as well as bacteria and any decay are removed. The resulting cavity is sealed off with material that prevents bacteria from reentering the tooth. This procedure is sometimes referred to as a “pulpectomy.”
Root canal therapy is highly successful and usually lasts for the life of the tooth, although rarely additional treatment is necessary.
Indications that root canal therapy may be necessary:
• Severe toothache.
• An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
• Sensitivity to hot and cold.
• Swelling and/or tenderness.
Occasionally no symptoms are present.
Reasons for root canal therapy:
• Decay is affecting the tooth’s pulp.
• An abscess or infection has developed at the root tip or inside the tooth.
• Injury or trauma has caused the pulp to die, risking infection.
A root canal procedure is performed over the course of one to three visits. Your tooth may be sensitive for several days following treatment, but this will diminish as the tooth heals and the inflammation subsides.
Skill and technique on the part of the endodontist are critical for comfort during a root canal procedure. That is why we will only refer you to endodontists that we trust.