Root Canal Therapy

Root canal, or endodontic treatment, is performed to save a tooth when the tooth pulp becomes infected. In most cases when a root canal is required for treatment, a patient has moderate to severe pain or exhibits another sign of infection like visible pus or lesions that alert dentists that a root canal is necessary. A root canal is the most frequent treatment for abscessed teeth and may be used in cases where an injury or trauma to a tooth might cause infection to spread.

Decayed, cracked, chipped or broken teeth, worn dental devices, or repeated dental fillings or other treatments weaken enamel and expose tooth pulp to bacteria. An infection can result in the tooth’s pulp from untreated bacteria deposits, and this condition is usually accompanied by one or more of these symptoms:

  • Tooth pain
  • Increased sensitivity to heat, cold or pressure
  • Visible discoloration or blackening of a cavity
  • Foul-tasting or smelling breath, even after brushing and flossing
  • Pus from lesions on the gums that drains into your mouth
  • Swollen face, or swollen or tender glands and lymph nodes

Tooth pulp is the deepest layer of a tooth, the purpose of which is to supply nutrients to growing teeth. But once a tooth has stopped growing, the pulp is not necessary to maintain the structure of the tooth.

Three main functions of tooth pulp:

  1. Sensory function – tooth nerves sense hot and cold temperatures
  2. Dentin formation – the hard protective internal layer or the tooth beneath the enamel layer
  3. Delivering nutrients to the tooth through blood vessels

A root canal is typically performed by dentists to save a tooth. Root canals benefit by:

  • Saving the affected tooth from being extracted
  • Preventing further infection and the spread of infection to adjacent teeth
  • Preventing severe, prolonged pain associated with tooth decay and gum disease

Endodontic therapy (root canal) is used by dentists to eliminate disease and decay and prevent the spread of further infection in tooth pulp that can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. Root canal therapy is frequently performed on abscesses, broken, chipped or cracked teeth, rotted teeth, or teeth affected by deep periodontal pockets.

Root canal therapy is typically attempted as the last-ditch effort to preserve a permanent tooth and avoid having to extract teeth. A root canal is similar in experience to having a cavity filled at the dentist’s office. No anesthetic is required, and pain is typically relieved with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

During a root canal, your dentist first removes all of a tooth’s diseased pulp and then cleans the area. This is typically the most time-consuming part of the procedure, as your dentist needs to clean out the infection and bacteria remains. The space where the pulp used to be is filled with a non-reactive and biocompatible material called gutta-percha and topped with a temporary filling. After a few weeks, your dentist removes the filling, checking again for any bacteria, and applies a permanent crown if needed.

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