When the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection, the nerve will start to die and eventually, decompose. In order to save the tooth, a root canal is performed. The pulp, nerves, bacteria, and decay are removed and the space is filled with special, dental materials that restore the tooth.
A root canal is an alternative solution to a tooth extraction (link to extraction page), and can be less costly, and less likely to cause problems to adjacent teeth. This procedure can preserve the tooth and keep it stable for years.
Signs and symptoms you may need a root canal:
● Sensitivity to hot and cold
● Severe tooth pain
● Swelling and/or tenderness
● A pimple (abscess) on the gums
● Sometimes no symptoms are present
Why would I need a root canal?
Abscess – Occasionally, infected teeth may have a drainage out the side of the gums causing a small pimple (also known as fistula) on the gums.This area can come and go, and may leave a bad taste around the tooth. It’s important to let us know if you notice these symptoms so that we can take an x-ray to pinpoint a current or past infection.
Decay – Once tooth decay reaches the nerve, the tissue will flare up and become infected. Because the decay is now enclosed in the tooth, the only way for swelling to be released is through the root or open decay. Covering the tooth only traps the bacteria inside, accelerating the infection. A root canal will save the tooth before it deteriorates even further.
Injury or trauma to the tooth – Injuries to teeth can happen frequently. However, they don’t always kill the tooth right away. It may take years, but the dead nerve inside the tooth will begin to appear darker.
What happens during a root canal?
A root canal is a relatively straightforward process. All the decay is removed and the nerve is removed. The open canal is then cleaned, medicated, and sealed off to prevent reinfection.
This process is very similar to filling, however the length of the treatment is usually longer because a larger area is being filled.
Good oral hygiene and regular dentist visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment. Regular dental visits can help prevent the necessity for root canals.