Root canals are also known as endodontic therapy and are performed when the nerve or pulp of a tooth becomes infected or inflamed. Inflammation can be caused by decay, a broken or cracked tooth, or from an injury. Excessive wear of enamel or severe gum disease can also make a root canal necessary. Root canal treatment can help save a damaged or infected tooth.
The term “root canal” is used to describe the natural cavity within the center of the tooth. The pulp is the soft area within the root canal and is made up of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When the pulp is damaged by bacteria, and other decayed debris can cause infection or an abscess.
Tooth pain is the most common symptom indicating a root canal may be needed. The pain can range in intensity and can change throughout the day, or it may get worse when you bite down on the tooth. Your gums may feel swollen and tender near the problem area, and there may be sensitivity to hot or cold food or liquids. If you experience these symptoms, you should contact your dentist right away and get treatment as soon as you can.
The first thing your dentist will do is take an x-ray to examine where the decay is located. A local anesthetic is administered to the area so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. An opening is created in the infected tooth, and the pulp and nerve are removed with specialized instruments. The root canal is thoroughly cleaned out and disinfected, then filled and sealed.
A dental crown is placed over the sealed tooth to restore function and provide protection. The crown prevents complications such as fracturing and prevents bacteria from infiltrating the tooth. The entire process takes two visits to the dental office, one to treat the root canal and one to place the crown restoration.
Benefits of a Root Canal
Root canal treatment helps to preserve a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. By removing the decay and filling the canals, the tooth roots remain anchored to the bone and tissue. The restored tooth can be used to chew and bite normally, and it preserves the surrounding bone structure. A treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care and good oral hygiene.
If you would like to find out more information on root canal treatments or think you may need one, contact Michael Nussbaum, DDS today and set up an appointment.