Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy
An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
Sensitivity to hot and cold
Severe toothache pain
Sometimes no symptoms are present
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?
A root canal procedure usually requires one appointment to complete.
While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva and bacteria. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, a bio compatible material is used to seal the canals and temporary filling is then placed.
At the next appointment, usually a week later, a filling will be placed to cover the opening on the top or the back of the tooth. In addition, some teeth will then need a crown (cap) placed to seal and protect the tooth, prevent it from fracture, and restore it to its full function.
You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.