Root canal, or endodontic, therapy treats inflammation or infection within the pulp of a tooth. If you are awaiting your first root canal treatment, you may feel anxious or uncertain. It can be difficult to separate myth from fact when trying to learn what to expect. Here is some useful information about root canal therapy and some common misperceptions you may encounter.
Despite common belief, root canal therapy does not cause pain. Instead, it relieves the pain you are already experiencing by treating the underlying cause of the infection or inflammation. Some common reasons for tooth pulp inflammation or infection include:
- Deep tooth decay
- Chip or crack in tooth structure
- Tooth root fracture
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Repeated treatment on a single tooth
Once inflammation begins, the pulp experiences swelling and pressure that cause pain. If left untreated, permanent damage to the pulp can occur, including pulp tissue death. When this happens, you may experience temporary relief of pain, but it may lead to painful infection and tooth loss.
Root canal therapy is the removal of diseased or dead pulp tissue from the inside of a tooth. We use specially designed instruments that clean out the pulp chamber and root canals. Next, we disinfect the canals with special medications and clean them once more. Finally, we seal the canals to prevent re-infection. You may experience minor discomfort for a few days, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications.
After your root canal treatment, your tooth will need a permanent restoration to replace the lost tooth structure and protect the remaining tooth. This may be a filling or crown, depending on your need. We will discuss your restoration plan with you prior to your root canal therapy.
Saving a Tooth with a Root Canal FAQs
How Does a Root Canal Help Save the Tooth?
Endodontic treatment, commonly knowns as a root canal, is a procedure in which your dentist removes the infected or inflamed pulp tissue from within your tooth’s root. This pulp tissue contains the nerves and blood vessels that support the tooth. After the infected or inflamed pulp tissue is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed to prevent further infection or inflammation. This procedure is done to save your natural tooth and can help prevent tooth loss.
The endodontic treatment procedure is performed in multiple stages. First, your dentist will access the infected or inflamed pulp tissue by drilling into the tooth. Then, your dentist will use special tools to remove the infected or inflamed pulp tissue from the root of the tooth. Once the root is completely cleaned, the area is sealed with a rubber-like material to prevent further infection or inflammation. Finally, your dentist may recommend further restoration to help strengthen the tooth.
Why Not Pull the Tooth Instead of Performing a Root Canal?
In some cases, it may be necessary to remove a tooth due to infection or inflammation. However, if the infection or inflammation can be successfully treated with endodontic treatment, then it is usually recommended to save the natural tooth. This is because removing a tooth can cause a number of problems, including shifting of the remaining teeth, difficulty with eating and speaking, and an increased risk of gum disease. In addition, if the tooth is removed, then it may need to be replaced with a bridge or dental implant, which can be costly.
What Kind of Restoration Will I Need After the Root Canal?
Once the endodontic treatment is complete, your dentist may recommend further restoration to help strengthen the tooth. This may include the placement of a crown, which is a cap that covers the entire surface of the tooth. A crown is usually made of porcelain and is designed to look and feel like your natural tooth. In some cases, a filling may also be used to help restore the strength and structure of the tooth.
What Happens if Tooth Infection or Inflammation Goes Untreated?
If an infection or inflammation in your tooth is left untreated, it may cause a number of problems, including pain, swelling, and difficulty with eating and speaking. In addition, an untreated infection or inflammation can spread to other teeth and even to other parts of your body. If the infection or inflammation is allowed to spread, it can cause serious medical complications, such as sepsis. For this reason, it is important to visit your dentist as soon as possible if you suspect you may have an infection or inflammation in your tooth.
Endodontic treatment is an effective way to save your natural tooth when it is infected or inflamed. By removing the infected or inflamed pulp tissue and sealing the root, your dentist can help prevent further infection or inflammation and help save your natural tooth. In addition, performing a root canal is usually preferable to removing the tooth, as it can help prevent shifting of the remaining teeth, difficulties with eating and speaking, and an increased risk of gum disease. Finally, one of our dentists may recommend further restoration after the endodontic treatment to help strengthen the tooth.