Endodontic therapy (also known as a root canal) has been on the receiving end of much negative conversation and jokes. But this treatment can mean the difference between losing and keeping a much needed tooth. When symptoms appear, your dentist can provide a diagnosis and the needed action to salvage your tooth.
When the dental nerve is damaged from trauma, disease, or decay the options for treatment are few:
- Ignore – This is usually not possible due to the eventual throbbing toothache that usually accompanies this type of dental issue.
- Root canal – your dentist can complete this treatment with minimal discomfort usually in less than one hour.
- Extraction – If left untreated, the result is most often tooth loss. If an abscess occurs, the patient may experience more severe discomfort and require antibiotics in addition to treatment. If extraction or tooth loss occurs, the time and financial investment to return to oral health may be extensive.
Symptoms that may eventually require a root canal include sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweet foods and/or beverages; cold air might even produce discomfort. A toothache may accompany sensitivity – symptoms are different for everyone.
When symptoms appear, your dentist can provide a diagnosis and the needed action to salvage your tooth.
Your dentist will determine the tooth involved using a blast of cold air or tapping the teeth; once the tooth is identified, an x-ray is taken to determine the number of roots to be treated, the direction they lay, and whether infection is present.
Some type of anesthetic is administered; the tooth is segregated to keep the area dry; an access point is drilled into the tooth; and the root canal can be completed. An instrument called a file is used to remove the contents of the dental canals. They contain the nerve, pulp tissue, and blood primarily. Each root canal is cleaned out, flushed to remove all contents, and treated for infection (if needed).
The final step for a root canal may be completed right then, but very often your dentist might want to wait a week or so to make sure treatment was successful.
To close the access point, the dentist will either use composite resin or resort to a dental crown. A substance called gutta percha fills the vacant canals, and the final restoration is completed. Whether resin or a crown is used, the restoration is undetectable and potential tooth loss is prevented.
If you are experiencing pain and suspect you might need a root canal, contact our dental team today.