Dental Health

Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy may be used to repair and save an infected or decayed tooth. Infected or damaged pulp (composed of nerves and blood vessels in the tooth) is removed during root canal therapy so that the inside of the tooth can be cleaned and sealed.

While many people fear root canals because they associate the procedure with pain, this is a widespread misconception. The pain due to infection or damage is far worse than any discomfort involved in treatment and will only worsen if ignored, causing more costly and painful problems down the road.

Removing tooth pulp does not negatively impact the health of the tooth as the pulp only serves a sensory purpose in detecting temperature. Removing infected pump helps to ensure infection does not worsen or spread to the rest of the tooth or other parts of the mouth. Left untreated, bacteria multiply in the pulp chamber causing an abscessed tooth. The abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the tooth root’s ends.

Infection of the root canal also causes:

  • Bone loss around the root tip
  • Swelling that may spread to the neck, face, or head
  • Drainage issues extending from the root, causing damage to the cheek or skin.

Signs you might need a root canal include:

  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Severe toothache when chewing or applying pressure
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling or tenderness in the gums
  • A pimple-like swell on the gums

Sometimes infection occurs even without these symptoms, so you should always consult your dentist to receive correct diagnosis and treatment.

Root canal treatment may require one or more visits depending on the extent of damage or infection. An x-ray is first taken to check for signs of infection in the bone around the area. A rubber dam is placed around the tooth to keep the area dry. Then, using an access hole drilled into the tooth, the dentist removes infected pump. After cleaning the area, the tooth is sealed. The tooth may be sealed at a separate appointment if medicine is applied to kill further infection. A temporary filling keeps contaminants out between visits.

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