You may need a root canal or endodontic treatment if the pulp (the soft tissue inside the root canal) gets inflamed or infected. While the pulp is important to a tooth’s growth and development, once a tooth is fully mature, it can survive without it, as its surrounding tissue can nourish it.
The pulp can become inflamed or infected for many reasons, such as:
- Excessive decay
- Several dental procedures done to the same tooth
- A crack or chip in the tooth
If you are experiencing pain, lasting sensitive to hot or cold, tenderness when chewing, tooth discoloration, or swelling, drainage or tenderness in the lymph nodes, you may be in need of root canal therapy, which should be taken care of as soon as possible to prevent additional pain or damage.
The Endodontic Procedure:
- X-rays of the tooth are examined and a local anesthetic is applied. Once the tooth is numb, a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” will be placed over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clear of saliva during the procedure.
- An opening in the crown of the tooth will be made and very small tools will be used to clear the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals. Space for the filling will be made at this time.
- Once the space is created, cleaned and shaped, the root canals will be filled with biocompatible material, often a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha.” The filling material is placed with adhesive cement and a temporary filling is put in place to close the opening.
- You will return for a follow-up visit to have a crown placed on the tooth to restore it to full function.
- In some cases, the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the crown or restoration in place. When that instance, a post may be placed inside in the tooth.
Once your root canal treatment has been completed, you should not chew or bite on the treated tool until it has been fully restored. Keep it in great shape by practicing good oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and visiting us every six months for cleanings and exams. When well-cared for, most teeth treated for a root canal will last just as long as your natural teeth.
Many people often fear the pain associated with root canal therapy, but the procedure is done to alleviate tooth pain. You should be feeling much better after you receive your root canal therapy.
The cost of a root canal varies depending on which tooth is effected, though most dental insurances policies provide some coverage for endodontic treatment. It is beneficial to have root canal treatment when necessary, as more extreme treatment, such as tooth extraction, can often be more costly. We recommend saving your natural teeth and your money by proactively caring for your oral health.
Source: The American Association of Endodontics, Root Canal Treatment