What is a Root Canal?
There are more than 15 million root canals performed each year in the U.S.. This makes it one of the most common dental procedures. This simple procedure can save your natural teeth and prevent unnecessary extractions and tooth replacements.
A root canal is a procedure used to treat severely decayed or infected teeth. The inside of a tooth contains a soft material called pulp. It is a nerve that allows the tooth to feel sensations. If the exterior of a tooth becomes damaged to the point where the pulp is exposed, infection may occur. Symptoms of a root canal infection include swelling of the gums and face, increased sensitivity to temperature and severe toothache. If left untreated, the infection can result in abscesses and ultimately, tooth loss.
In order to save the structure of the tooth, your dentist will remove the pulp and clean the inside of your tooth. The only purpose of the nerve is to provide sensory experience, so its removal will not affect the normal function of your tooth. The cavity is then sealed with a filling, in order to prevent further damage. If you are experiencing a severe toothache or sensitivity, call your dentist immediately for emergency treatment.
Why Do I Need a Root Canal?
Treatment is necessary when the pulp of the tooth becomes inflamed, infected or dies. The pulp contains vital nerves and blood vessels that become infected, when bacteria invade it. Bacteria and inflammation are often introduced through a cavity, fracture or an injury. If an infection is left untreated, it can travel throughout the tooth and cause a painful abscess.
Infected Tooth Symptoms:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Pain with biting
- Throbbing or severe pain
- No symptoms
Advantages of Saving Your Tooth:
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensations
- Natural appearance
- Protects other teeth from excessive wear or stain
Stages of Root Canal Therapy:
- The tooth is numbed for your comfort. An opening is made through the crown and the nerve is removed.
- Each canal is then cleaned and shaped, so it can be filled. Medicine may be placed in the tooth.
- The canals are filled with rubber-like material to seal them.
- The tooth is restored with a dental restoration (usually a crown) to strengthen it.