Root canal treatment is used to save a tooth that has become irreversibly injured or infected due to a large cavity, a cracked tooth, tooth trauma, or some other unknown cause. Often times patients will go to the dentist because of a severe tooth ache which normally indicates that a root canal is necessary. The treatment involves removing the pulp and nerve tissue of the tooth, and disinfecting the infected area. If the treatment is not performed, the infection can grow causing pus to accumulate at the root tip which if left untreated can spread to the surrounding bone and tissue. In some situations an infected tooth can result in intense pain and swelling, and may sometimes result in serious life-threatening complications.
What signs indicate that a root canal may be needed?
- Severe toothache or constant dull ache
- Severe tooth pain while chewing
- Tooth pain that wakes you up at night
- Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time.
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- Swollen gums or drainage in the area of the infected tooth
What does the treatment involve?
First, an opening is made into the pulp chamber through the crown of the tooth. Once the pulp is removed, the root canal is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. If the dentist decides to complete the root canal treatment in multiple visits, a temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth. When you return, the dentist will remove the temporary filling, re-clean the root canal and pulp chamber, and place a permanent filling and / or crown over the tooth. Molars will always require a crown following a root canal to prevent the tooth and/or root from fracturing.
Root canal therapy has a high rate of success and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime.