Root Canals

A root canal, also known as endodontic treatment, is a treatment performed to save an infected tooth. The dentist or endodontist performs this treatment by removing infected tissue from the inner canal of the tooth, refilling and sealing the tooth. A root canal alleviates infection in a tooth and is a procedure that can prevent future infections. Many patients experience complete relief from tooth pain immediately following a root canal and are able to resume daily activities shortly after the procedure.

Root canal signs and symptoms

A root canal is performed to remove decayed or infected tissue from the inner part of an affected tooth. While the blood vessels and nerves inside of a tooth are important, your tooth can function normally with these parts removed. This procedure is a defense against needed a tooth extraction which will leave a space where the tooth once was.

A root canal removes the dead pulp in order to:

  • Eliminate disease or decay– The infection from a disease or dead pulp can cause pain, health problems, and teeth loss.
  • Prevent future infections– If not completely removed, the infection can remain and spread.
  • Save a tooth– In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased pulp, it was usually extracted. Now, root canals can help you keep that tooth. Even teeth with significant damage from disease or accident can be saved with root canals and can last for the rest of your life.

An infection usually provides some warning signs. Sometimes, there are no noticeable symptoms, but your dentist may discover the infection during a routine visit. If the pulp of your tooth has become diseased, you may:

  • Tooth pain
  • Feel prolonged or increased sensitivity to heat or cold or pressure
  • See a discoloration or a large cavity
  • Experience a foul taste in your mouth, even after brushing
  • Notice pus that drains into your mouth
  • Experience swollen or tender lymph nodes

Tooth pulp is the innermost living layer of the tooth that is comprised of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues which span through the center and into each of the roots of the tooth. The tooth pulp has three main functions: housing sensory function through a network of nerves that sense hot and cold; formation of dentin the hard secondary layer of the tooth; providing nourishment to the tooth through blood vessels. Though the pulp supplies a growing tooth with nutrients, a fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp, as it is nourished by surrounding tissues.

Nerve fibers, blood, and lymph tissues are housed in the root canals. Located inside each tooth is a pulp chamber that funnels into those canals.

A tooth can become inflamed or infected for several reasons, including severe tooth decay, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma. Failing restorations such as dental fillings and dental crowns can foster bacterial leakage into the dental pulp. Once infected, the dental pulp begins to die and the body’s inflammatory responses set it. The combination of infection and inflammation can cause significant pain. The end result is a toothache.

In cases where tooth extraction is the only solution, the missing tooth may be replaced with a dental implant or dental bridge to maintain functionality. By replacing the missing tooth, a proper bite is maintained and the surrounding teeth are prevented from shifting. Because a severe infection can be very dangerous, it is important to receive a professional evaluation by a dentist who can look deeper into the cause of a toothache. If an infection spreads beyond the jaw to the head and neck, then more extensive medical treatment, including hospitalization, may be required.

Root canals, also called endodontic therapy, are fairly common procedures, and the experience is similar to having a cavity filled.

During a root canal, your dentist first removes all of a tooth’s diseased pulp, and then cleans the area. This is typically the most time-consuming part of the procedure, as your dentist needs to clean out the infection and bacteria remains. The space where the pulp used to be is filled with a non-reactive and biocompatible material called gutta-percha, and topped with a temporary filling. After a few weeks, your dentist removes the filling, checking again for any bacteria, and applies a permanent crown if needed.

Call Dental Hub ASAP. Remember, the earlier we can catch a problem, the more likely we can save your tooth. It’s also more likely that you’ll require less extensive treatment.

And though many people are afraid that root canals will be painful, most of our patients are pleasantly surprised to feel little or no pain. In fact, a recent endodontic survey showed that patients who had root canals were six times more likely to describe it as “painless” than patients who had not experienced the treatment.

The technology of today’s dental instruments has led to revolutionary enhancements in treatment. For example, endodontists and dentists of the past had to feel their way through the anatomy of the tooth in order to locate the tiny canals that house pulp tissue. Today, the use of a microscope allows dentists to easily navigate through even the most complex anatomy.

Ultrasonic needle: In the past, it was extremely difficult to remove broken files from roots, at times resulting in the loss of the tooth being treated. Today, an ultrasonic needle may be used to send a vibration down the canal to a broken file for its removal.

Water Laser: The use of the laser is just starting to crest in endodontics. The endodontist or dentist may disinfect the tooth using a water laser with a bleaching solution. Laser dentistry technology is still developing in this new area, but the use of the water laser holds promise.

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