Root Canal Therapy
Every tooth has a center chamber and canals that contain a blood and nerve supply, called tooth pulp. When this pulp becomes infected it is necessary to remove the infected pulp to restore the tooth's healthy status. Once the pulp is removed the canals and chamber are then sealed off to prevent bacteria from re-entering the tooth. This procedure is called root canal therapy.
When a pulp chamber has become irreversibly infected, root canal therapy is the only approved remedy to save a tooth. Many people opt for root canal therapy to avoid removing the tooth. If a tooth is removed the options to replace it can be costly. People that choose not to replace a missing tooth often experience tooth shifting, difficulty eating, and a loss in cosmetics. Most people prefer to save their infected tooth with root canal therapy.
An infected tooth is the most common reason for root canal therapy. Trauma, fractured teeth, extreme sensitivity, and highly worn teeth are among other reasons for treatment.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
An abscess in the gums or jaw bone.
Hot and cold discomfort.
Severe toothache pain.
Throbbing or radiating pain.
Sometimes no symptoms are present.
Swelling and/or tenderness.
What is the process of Root Canal Therapy?
Most root canals can be performed by a general dentist. For a complex tooth the dentist may refer you to an endodontist (root canal specialist).
Some people have dental anxiety for their root canal appointment. Misconception about pain during a root canal may come because both the procedure and disease are inappropriately termed "root canal". While the disease can be very painful, the procedure is performed only when adequately numb. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, can be administered to calm patients with anxiety.
Once profoundly numb, the dentist will place a rubber barrier to protect the tooth from contamination during the procedure. The dentist then will access the pulp chamber and canals of the tooth. With a series of files, all infected tissue is gently removed. Next, the dentist will smooth and shape the canals to facilitate sealing the tooth. The canals are sealed with a biocompatible rubber called guttapercha.
After treatment, your tooth may still be sore, but this will subside as the post-operative inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.
During treatment, the structural integrity of the tooth is compromised. To give strength to the tooth, a crown is placed to reinforce the remaining tooth structure. Root canal treated teeth, without a crown, will fracture and become reinfected more than 85% of the time. It is recommended that almost every root canal therapy is followed with a crown.
Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually will last a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to reinfection years down the road.