A root canal, also known as endodontic treatment, is a treatment performed to save an infected tooth. The dentist or endodontist performs this treatment by removing infected tissue from the inner canal of the tooth, refilling and sealing the tooth. A root canal alleviates infection in a tooth and is a procedure that can prevent future infections. Many patients experience complete relief from tooth pain immediately following a root canal and are able to resume daily activities shortly after the procedure.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is performed to remove decayed or infected tissue from the inner part of an affected tooth. While the blood vessels and nerves inside of a tooth are important, your tooth can function normally with these parts removed. This procedure is a defense against needed a tooth extraction which will leave a space where the tooth once was.
A root canal removes the dead pulp in order to:
- Eliminate disease or decay– The infection from a diseased or dead pulp can cause pain, health problems, and teeth loss.
- Prevent future infections– If not completely removed, the infection can remain and spread.
- Save a tooth– In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased pulp, it was usually extracted. Now, root canals can help you keep that tooth. Even teeth with significant damage from disease or accident can be saved with root canals, and can last for the rest of your life.
Root Canal Signs And Symptoms
A root canal, also known as endodontic treatment, is performed to save a tooth when the pulp inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. Sometimes you will not feel pain and there are no noticeable symptoms that will tell you that you need a root canal. In most cases, a patient notices pain or exhibits another symptom, such as infection, that alerts the dentist that a root canal is necessary.
Severe tooth decay, cracked, chipped or broken teeth, worn or repeat dental work can all weaken enamel and dentin and expose a tooth pulp to bacteria that causes infection. An infection usually provides some warning signs.
Signs you may need a root canal
An infection usually provides some warning signs. Sometimes, there are no noticeable symptoms, but your dentist may discover the infection during a routine visit. If the pulp of your tooth has become diseased, you may:
- Tooth pain
- Feel prolonged or increased sensitivity to heat or cold or pressure
- See a discoloration or a large cavity
- Experience a foul taste in your mouth, even after brushing
- Notice pus that drains into your mouth
- Experience swollen or tender lymph nodes
What is the function of the tooth pulp?
Tooth pulp is the innermost living layer of the tooth that is comprised of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues which span through the center and into each of the roots of the tooth. The tooth pulp has three main functions: housing sensory function through a network of nerves that sense hot and cold; formation of dentin the hard secondary layer of the tooth; providing nourishment to the tooth through blood vessels. Though the pulp supplies a growing tooth with nutrients, a fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp, as it is nourished by surrounding tissues.
The root canal procedure
Root canals, also called endodontic therapy, are fairly common procedures, and the experience is similar to having a cavity filled.
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.
What to do if you need a root canal
Call us ASAP. Remember, the earlier we can catch a problem, the more likely we can save your tooth. It’s also more likely that you’ll require less extensive treatment.
And though many people are afraid that root canals will be painful, most of our patients are pleasantly surprised to feel little or no pain. In fact, a recent endodontic survey showed that patients who had root canals were six times more likely to describe it as “painless” than patients who had not experienced the treatment.