It used to be that severely damaged or infected teeth had to be extracted (pulled). But today, compromised teeth can often times be saved with endodontic therapy. Endodontic procedures focus on the soft inner tissue of the tooth known as the pulp. The pulp spreads from the top, or crown, of the tooth to the tip of the roots and contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. The actual pulp-filled cavity within the tooth is known as the root canal. When the pulp becomes infected with bacteria, an endodontist will remove the diseased pulp and clean the root canal to preserve the tooth. The most common type of endodontic treatment is root canal therapy.
Cobblestone Park Family Dental understands that many patients associate the term “root canal” with a highly invasive or painful dental procedure. But thanks to modern advances in dentistry, endodontic procedures, including root canal therapy, can be performed safely with little to no discomfort.
When Is Endodontic Therapy Necessary?
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This can be a result of tooth decay, repeated dental procedures, a crack, chip or other injury to the tooth.
If left untreated, the infection or inflammation can cause pain, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, tooth discoloration, swelling, and gum tenderness when chewing. Severe cases of infection can lead to formation of an abscess. An abscess is an infected pus pocket that forms at the tip of the tooth root. Often painful, an abscess can damage the tissues and bone surrounding and supporting the tooth.
Not all damaged or diseased teeth can be saved with endodontic therapy. A tooth that cannot be restored, or that has a severely fractured root or inadequate bone support, cannot be treated with endodontic therapy and will need to be extracted. Our dentists can examine your teeth, gums and jaw and discuss your treatment options with you during an in-office evaluation.
Endodontic Treatment Details
Modern endodontic procedures are performed using local anesthetics and technology that make treatment comfortable. There are several different techniques used to repair damaged tooth roots and pulps, each depending on the severity of the problem. Traditional root canal therapy involves creating a small opening in the crown to access the root canals. The pulp is then carefully removed and the canals are cleaned, disinfected and reshaped so the tooth can hold a filling made of biocompatible material. In most cases, a filling, often referred to as a build up, is placed to seal the opening. Eventually, if not the same day, the root canal treated tooth will need to a have a permanent dental restoration, usually a dental crown, placed. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to support the dental restoration, a post may be placed as well to strengthen the tooth.
Following your procedure, you may experience some tooth sensitivity, especially if there was pain before the procedure. Post-op discomfort is temporary and can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.