When soft tissue in the center of the tooth, known as the pulp, becomes infected or damaged, a root canal procedure is performed. The pulp can initially become infected for a variety of reasons, including a crack or chip in the tooth, deep decay caused by bacteria, and even from having multiple dental procedures on the tooth. Some signs of pulp damage include sensitivity to heat or cold, prolonged tooth pain, swelling and tenderness of nearby gums, and also discoloration in the tooth. However, sometimes there are no symptoms.
Having a damaged nerve in the tooth alone does not suggest that a root canal is necessary. The nerve's only function is sensory—determining hot or cold. However, when the pulp and the nerve tissue become damaged, it breaks down, causing bacteria to form in the pulp chamber. If left untreated, this can lead to an abscessed tooth, swelling around the face and neck, and a severe toothache.
Root canal procedure
The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues, so during a root canal, the infected or damaged pulp and nerves are removed to prevent bacteria from forming or spreading. The empty space is then cleaned, filled, and sealed. Usually a crown is put on to protect the underlying tooth, which is made more susceptible to fracture due to the loss of a great amount of structure from the decay.
Even though the root canal treatment often takes one to two visits, there are times when more visits are necessary due to the complexity of the tooth and the cause of the root canal. In preparation for the procedure, an X-ray is taken of the tooth and is then examined. A local anesthetic is used to eliminate or reduce any pain that may occur during the procedure. After the space has been cleaned and shaped, a temporary filling made of biocompatible material is placed in the space. This material creates a barrier to prevent fluids and other matter from entering the tooth at the tip of the root.
Restoring the tooth
After the root canal procedure is completed and the temporary filling is removed, if the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold a restoration in place, a post will need to be made inside the tooth. This will help provide a solid foundation for your restoration and will protect and restore the tooth to its full function.
The result of this procedure is a beautiful, natural-looking tooth that is free from infection and healthier than before. If you need a root canal for your tooth, don’t delay treatment! Call us today to discuss your root canal options.