Dental Health and Root Canals
In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you would probably lose that tooth. Today, with a special dental procedure called root canal treatment, your tooth can be saved. Root canals are a relatively simple procedure involving one to three office visits. Best of all, having a root canal when necessary can save your tooth and your smile!
Endodontic therapy, also known as a root canal, is a relatively painless treatment of the tooth aimed at clearing infection as well as protecting the tooth from subsequent infections.
A tooth's nerve is not vitally important to a tooth's health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its primary function is sensory – to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result. This can not only injure your jawbones, but it is detrimental to your overall health. Without the proper treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.
What are the signs that a root canal is needed?
Teeth that require endodontic therapy are not always painful. However, 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
What happens during endodontic therapy?
Root canal treatment involves one to three visits during which your endodontist removes the effected tissue. After the tissue is removed, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite. If your tooth had extensive decay, your doctor may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breaking. 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.