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Periodontal Disease
July 24, 2015
July 24, 2015
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Root canal / Root canal therapy


What is a root canal?

A tooth is hollow on the inside and houses the nerve and blood vessels. When the nerve of a tooth dies, or becomes irritated beyond hope of healing, it leads to the formation of an abscess or infection. The resulting abscess destroys bone around the tooth which usually leads to pain when a patient bites down on anything. The root canal procedure is a process by which the dentist or endodontist, a specialist who only does root canals and surgery, opens deep into the tooth known as the tooth pulp.  This procedure allows the tooth to be saved from extraction in most cases.   The root canal result is similar to removing a splinter in your finger you may encounter from a piece of wood. It allows healing of the soft tissue and bone around the tooth.

Why would you need a root canal?

There are many reasons why a root canal is needed. Some of those reasons are sensitivity to heat and cold, significant tooth pain, tooth discoloration or swelling and tenderness in the gums. The most common reason is a high degree of decay within the tooth. The diseased tooth may cause damage to the jaw bone or cause other problems if the infection spreads. Without a root canal, the tooth may need to be extracted.

What does root canal treatment involve?

Our doctors can often complete a root canal treatment in just one visit, depending on the severity of the infection or inflammation of the tooth in question.  As with most dental procedures, there will be at the very least local anesthesia to numb the area that will need treatment.  During the root canal, the dentist will drill into the tooth and remove the diseased pulp.  When all of the diseased pulp is removed, the area is cleaned and then sealed.

Is a root canal painful?

Root canal procedures have a reputation of being very painful. However, pain is usually associated when there is bone destruction and swelling from an abscess. When an abscess occurs it forms an acidic environment within the gum tissue and bone. A local anesthetic is a basic solution which neutralizes the acidic environment of the abscess. Unfortunately this is not always a good thing because it causes the anesthetic to be less effective than if there was no abscess. For this reason the dentist or endodontist may put you on an antibiotic regimen prior to your root canal treatment. The pain associated with the procedure itself is not as bad as the pain a person may be experiencing due to the reason the root canal has to be performed in the first place.

How long does treatment last?

A restored tooth after a root canal can last a lifetime in so long as the teeth and gums are taken care of properly.  Follow up visits to the dentist on a regular basis help to ensure that the root canal is still taking care of the tooth the procedure was performed on.  If the tissue around the root canal nourishes the area like it should, there should be no long lasting problems.

Will the tooth need any other special care or treatment?

Following root canal therapy of a posterior tooth (bicuspids and molars), we recommend a crown for protection and strength of the remaining tooth. After a crown has been placed, normal chewing activity can be resumed.  Just continue to practice good oral hygiene and return for regular visits.

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