Root canal therapy is utilized to save the tooth after the tooth’s nerve has been affected by infection or decay. During this treatment, the pulp (living tissue inside of a tooth), nerves, bacteria and decay are removed. The space that remains after the procedure is filled with medicated dental materials that will restore the full functionality of the tooth.
Root canal therapy is typically done to avoid pulling a tooth. Though pulling a damaged tooth may seem like the easiest solution to the problem, it actually turns out to be more costly for the patient. It typically causes significant problems for the teeth on either side of the damaged one because they begin to migrate into the vacant space. This changes your bite. Another problem is that filling the space with a bridge means cutting and crowning away the surrounding teeth to create supports for the bridge.
Root canal therapy usually lasts a lifetime. On the rare occasion, a tooth will have to be treated again due to more infections. After the root canal is done, a build up may be needed for a foundation for a crown. Sometimes the root canal will be done after the crown is placed. This would happen if a tooth has signs of injury or sensitivity after the crown has been placed.
Common signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Severe toothache pain
- Swelling and/or tenderness
Reasons for root canal therapy:
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
- Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
- Injury or trauma to the tooth.
What does root canal therapy involve?
One or more appointments are necessary for a root canal. After numbing the tooth, the dentist will place a rubber dam (sheet of rubber) around the tooth. This dam keeps the tooth dry and safe from saliva. An access opening is then created on the top of the tooth. A series of root canal files are passed through this opening and are used to remove the pulp, nerve tissue, bacteria and decay.
After a thorough cleaning, the tooth will then be sealed with a permanent filling. If more appointments are necessary, a temporary filling will be used instead.
The second appointment usually takes place about a week after the first. At this time, the roots and cavity inside the tooth are filled and sealed off; the opening created on top of the tooth is also covered. Crowns are also typically placed on any teeth that have received root canal therapy, thereby protecting the tooth from further breakage and making it fully functional once again.
The tooth will likely be sensitive after the treatment, but this sensitivity will diminish after the tooth has healed.
We provide after-care instructions to all patients who receive root canal treatment.
Need more information about root canals? Contact your Salem dentists at Oak Park Family Dental.