Root canal therapy is an important component of restorative dentistry. If the tooth root has become damaged, a root canal allows the patient to move forward without losing the tooth. Endodontic therapy removes the infected tooth pulp for a fresh start.
When is a root canal necessary?
There are several reasons why a root canal may be an appropriate treatment option. Whether due to an advanced cavity, many dental procedures performed on a tooth, a facial injury, a large filling, or a deep chip or crack in the tooth, the pulp can become damaged. After tooth pulp has been damaged, it breaks down and bacteria enter the tooth root. This can lead to an infection or abscess forming.
If a root canal is not perform, swelling will grow and may spread to other areas of the face or neck. Bone loss may occur at the tip of the root. Drainage issues may also take hold at the root, into the gums or through the cheek and into the skin. The ultimate consequence may be tooth loss and the need for surgery.
Signs You May Benefit from Root Canal Therapy
If you suspect that something may be wrong, schedule an appointment with Dr. Singh. He will examine your mouth, take x-rays and determine whether a root canal is the best treatment plan.
There are some symptoms related to tooth pulp damage or infection. At the same time, no symptoms may appear when you have an infection or abscess, so it’s vital that you schedule regular dental exams to identify potential concerns.
Some symptoms of an infection or abscess include:
- Severe tooth pain when chewing or applying pressure
- Ongoing sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold foods/liquids, even after the higher/lower temperature has been removed
- Darkened tooth or tooth discoloration
- Swollen, tender gums near the infected tooth
- A recurring pimple on the gums
The Root Canal Procedure
- Dr. Singh will evaluate the tooth (or teeth) in question with a visual examination and x-rays to identify signs of infection in the jaw bone. He will discuss the treatment process and what you can expect each step of the way.
- The treatment area is numbed with local anesthesia. Depending on your anxiety level, you may also benefit from sedation – ask our team if you are interested in learning more.
- A small, thin sheet of rubber is placed around the tooth so that it can be kept clean, dry and free of saliva during the procedure.
- A small hole is drilled into the tooth, usually on the lingual (tongue-facing) side. The tooth pulp is removed through this hole using narrow dental instruments. Throughout the cleaning process, the tooth is flushed to help remove all pulp and debris.
- Once the tooth has been completely cleaned of infected pulp, it needs to be sealed. Depending on your case, Dr. Singh may wait to seal the tooth until present infection has been treated. If the tooth is not immediately sealed, a temporary filling is placed over the hole to protect the tooth.
- When the tooth is sealed, a rubber compound is placed inside the root canal to close the canal and protect it from future infections. Then a filling is placed over the access hole.
- In most cases, further restoration of the tooth is necessary to protect the structure in the future. This may mean a crown being placed over the tooth, or another restoration being used. This will help prevent the tooth from breaking in the future.
If you are anxious about an upcoming root canal, speak with a member of our team about whether you may benefit from dental sedation.