Endodontic therapy, also known as a root canal, is a treatment which aims at clearing infection as well as protecting the tooth from subsequent infections. We always say we don't know why so many people worry when they hear the word root canal. We make sure your tooth is totally numb before starting any treatment. In fact, most people are so surprised when it's over that it was easy and comfortable. The most common question we get from patients afterward is, "That was it?!"
We always say root canals are the good guys; they are what make your tooth and bone feel better and get back into health. When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause infection. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result.
This not only puts your jawbones at risk for injury, but it is also detrimental to your overall health. Without the proper treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.
Signs you may need a root canal include:
- Severe toothache
- Pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
- Dark discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- Although sometimes the tooth may not be sensitive at all, but infection shows on the x-ray or decay involves the pulp.
What happens during endodontic therapy?
Root canal treatment involves one to three visits during which the dentist removes the affected tissue. After the tissue is removed, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed.
Finally, the the canals and pulp are filled. If your tooth had extensive decay, or if it is a back tooth your doctor will likely recommend placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breakage. As long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.
Most teeth can be saved by endodontic therapy. However, tooth extraction may be necessary if:
- Roots are severely fractured
- The tooth does not have adequate bone support
- The tooth cannot be restored
- Root canals are not accessible
Endodontic therapy is intended to help save your tooth from extraction. Missing teeth can make you self-conscious, affect your ability to bite and chew, cause other healthy teeth to shift, and have a negative impact on your overall health. By choosing to receive endodontic therapy, you are choosing to keep your smile healthy and beautiful for years to come.