Root canal therapy is performed in an effort to save teeth that have been damaged or infected. The rate of success for the therapy is high.
A root canal is actually a small passageway that lies under the surface of the tooth and reaches to the root. Every tooth has at least one root canal.
The pulp inside the root canals contains blood vessels, nerves and tissue that nourish your teeth as they grow and establish their own blood supply. When the pulp is infected with bacteria from tooth decay or trauma to the tooth the infection can be removed with root canal therapy.
When the pulp becomes infected the blood supply to the tooth decreases so that the tooth can’t heal itself. Antibiotics are of no help since they are carried to the tooth through the bloodstream. Root canal therapy is the only way to treat the infection. If left untreated the infection can spread to other parts of the body.
At some stage you will begin to feel pain and swelling. The pain will be worse if you try to bite down on something and the tooth will become more sensitive to hot or cold.
Your dentist will test for sensitivity and see if your gums are red and swollen. He will study xrays and use an electrical pulp tester to further assess the damage.
Your dentist will perform root canal therapy. You may need to schedule more that one appointment depending on the extent of the infection.
The area around the infected tooth will be completely numb during the procedure. The dentist will use a small drill to go into the tooth and remove the infected pulp. He will clean the root canals and fill them with a soft material and a medication to treat the infection. The dentist may leave the tooth alone to heal or he may install a temporary filling. When the therapy is complete the tooth will be fitted with a crown.
Follow up by continuing to practice good oral health habits at home and see your dentist regularly, as usual.