A good dentist will do everything possible to save the tooth, and in many cases the best course of treatment is the root canal procedure. Whether you are dealing with a tooth that has been knocked out in an accident, damaged by tooth decay or compromised by gum disease, your dentist may recommend root canal therapy to save the tooth and restore your natural smile.
Root canal is the common term for endodontic therapy. If your dentist talks about endodontics therapy, he or she is referring to a root canal. This unique type of dental therapy becomes necessary when the nerve, or pulp, deep within the tooth is infected or otherwise damaged.
Root canal therapy involves the removal of the entire pulp and root system, as well as the cleansing and shaping of the underlying canal system and the filling of that canal with a synthetic filling and dental sealant.
There are a number of symptoms that may indicate the need for a root canal. If your teeth are extremely sensitive to hot or cold or you experience pain or discomfort when chewing or biting down, the cause could be damage to the nerve in the affected tooth.
A persistent dull ache or severe tooth pain could also indicate the need for a root canal. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should talk to your dentist right away. Your dentist will evaluate your condition, check the affected tooth and decide whether or not a root canal procedure will be needed.
When you arrive for your exam, the dentist will begin by x-raying the tooth and administering a local anesthetic to numb the affected area. The tooth will then be isolated using a special oral appliance, and an opening will be made in the crown. This will allow the dentist to thoroughly clean the canal and shape those spaces for filling and sealing. A temporary filling will be used to fill the gap left by the procedure, and that temporary filling will be replaced with a permanent one before the tooth is fully restored.
A root canal may seem like a daunting procedure, but advances in dental technology and pain management mean that there is typically little or no discomfort. You may experience a bit of soreness immediately after the procedure, and your dentist may recommend a soft or liquid diet for a day or two. Beyond that, you should be back to your normal activities very quickly, and you will not have to worry about severe tooth pain or the risk of infection any longer.