The root canal of a tooth is located below gum level. This canal inside the root of the tooth holds the nerve, pulp, and blood that allow the tooth to discern temperature.
Once a permanent tooth erupts (pushes through the gums), the nerve in the root canal no longer serves a useful purpose. There is good news and bad news … the good news is that a tooth can survive very well without the contents in the canal. The bad news is if infection occurs, a root canal to remove the nerve, pulp and blood will be required to save the tooth.
Infection occurs when bacteria permeates the protective enamel that covers the tooth. This can happen if a tooth is chipped, decay is present, a previous filling cracks, or a tooth is fractured. Even a hairline fracture that you cannot see may not produce any immediate signs, but infection can be forming.
Prevention is the optimum way to prevent the need for a root canal, but if required a root canal can save your tooth.
Eventually, there are symptoms that will trigger the need to visit the dentist if you are dealing with an infection within the root canal.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold worsens, and the discomfort lingers
- There is toothache when chewing
- Unexplained sores or blisters on the gum tissue appear
- Swelling occurs
Unfortunately, if the infection has advanced to form an abscess (a pocket of pus located at the base of the root), prompt treatment is required to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body.
The root canal has a negative reputation as a horrible experience. But the procedure is simple and starts with a dental x-ray taken to identify the number of canals on the tooth to be treated. It is critical that all canals be treated because if one is missed, the root canal therapy may fail and require additional treatment.
The tooth is walled off with a rubber dam and an entry point is drilled into the tooth. Instrumentation and technique make the process quick and painless as the canals’ contents are removed. The final steps involve flushing the canals, treating as needed, and filling the vacated canals to provide tooth stability. The point of entry is then sealed with a restoration chosen based on which tooth was treated.
Prevention is the optimum way to prevent the need for a root canal, but if required a root canal can save your tooth. Contact our experienced team at The Dental Place to make an appointment today.