When the soft tissue inside your teeth, containing blood vessels and nerves become inflamed or diseased, two treatment choices are available. In days gone by, the only choice was the removal of the tooth. Now, the tooth can often be saved with a procedure known as a root canal.
A root canal is a relatively simple procedure, usually requiring three visits to the dentist. During a root canal, your dentist removes the diseased pulp (soft tissue inside the tooth). The pulp area and root canal of the tooth are cleaned and sealed. The tooth is then filled with a dental material called a composite. If the tooth has been weakened from extensive decay, the dentist may suggest placing a crown over the tooth to protect it from cracking or breaking.
A tooth restored by a root canal treatment and a crown can last a lifetime, providing regular dental hygiene and dental checkups are continued.
The Purpose of a Root Canal
Once a tooth has fully come through the gums and taken its place among the other teeth, the nerve of that tooth is no longer vitally important. It’s only purpose, at that point, is to provide the sensation of hot and cold. Eating, drinking, speaking are not affected by the presence or absence of the nerve and associated soft tissue of the tooth.
When a tooth has a deep cavity or crack in the enamel, bacteria can enter the soft tissue and cause infection inside the tooth. If the infection is not cleaned out the tooth will begin to hurt and the area around it to swell. This can injure the jawbone, cause infection or decay in nearby teeth, or even negatively affect your overall health. Without a root canal, it’s likely the tooth would have to be removed.
The signs you may need a root canal include:
- Pain when you chew
- Pain when pressure is applied to the tooth or nearby gum area
- Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold
- Dark discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling or tenderness in the nearby gums
If you experience any of these, contact our dental office and make an appointment. We are here to help: (802) 878-5591