At Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry, we want to help our patients avoid tooth extractions. Tooth extractions can lead to other complications that jeopardize the future of your oral health. One of the ways we can help you keep your natural teeth is root canal therapy. Despite popular opinion, root canals are relatively painless thanks to advancements in technology and techniques. A root canal is now considered to be a fairly comfortable treatment that only requires one or two appointments.
When Is a Root Canal Necessary?
The goal of a root canal is to save a tooth that has become severely infected. In general, we may recommend a root canal when the infection has spread to the pulp that exists deep within the tooth. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected, and abscesses or cysts may form. When the tooth’s pulp is damaged, the bacteria will begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. An abscess will form once the infection spreads past the roots of the tooth. This can cause swelling in the face, bone loss around the root, and problems with your gum tissue.
Infection of the pulp can be the result of an untreated cavity. If the infection remains untreated, the tooth may eventually need to be extracted. Infection may also be the result of large fillings, cracks in the tooth, trauma to the face, and repeated dental work. You may need a root canal if you are experiencing severe toothaches, and have difficulties chewing food. To determine if a root canal is necessary, we will take x-rays and perform a comprehensive exam.
Root Canal Procedure
Before we begin the procedure, our dentists will administer a local anesthetic to numb the tooth. You may feel a small pinch as the result of the needle. Once the area is completely numbed, we will place a small sheet of rubber around the tooth to keep it dry and clean during the procedure.
Next, we will make a small hole in the bite (occlusal) surface of the tooth to access the pulp. Then, we will use a tiny file to remove all decayed tooth material and bacteria from the pulp chamber. Once the diseased pulp has been removed, we will irrigate the chamber with a cleaning solution to wash away any remaining debris.
After the chamber is cleaned and dried, we use a rubber-like material, known as gutta percha, to fill the space. our dentists will then close the opening with a temporary filling.
After the Procedure
After a root canal, your tooth may become brittle or structurally unsound. For the majority of patients, we will place a permanent dental crown to protect the tooth. This typically happens a few weeks after the procedure. We may also place a small supporting post inside the tooth to ensure the crown is stable.
Be sure to practice excellent oral hygiene after you receive your dental crown. We may need to schedule additional check-ups to ensure all signs of the infections are gone. Regular cleanings and routine appointments are also an important part of your oral health.