What is root canal therapy?
When is a root canal needed?
Your dentist may consider a root canal if you suffer from the following:
- Infected or sick tooth due to decay or injury
- Chronic tooth pain from contact with hot and cold liquids
- Pain from pressure or biting down
- Danger of infection spreading
The signs that a tooth may be infected include pain, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, tenderness to the touch and when chewing, discoloration of the tooth, swelling or tenderness of the gum tissue surrounding the tooth, and the appearance of persistent pimples on the gums. Sometimes the patient has no symptoms, and the infection shows up on routine x-rays during your routine twice yearly cleaning and exam appointments. If you choose to ignore your symptoms or skip your exams, the tissue surrounding the tooth may develop an abscess, a puss-filled pocket that extends up the roots of the tooth. If this happens, the tooth will usually not be able to be saved and will require extraction.
Advantages & disadvantages of root Canal therapy:
Root canal therapy is an excellent way to save a tooth that would otherwise die and need to be removed. If a tooth is sick, there are no disadvantages to root canal therapy. On rare occasions, however, root canal therapy may need to be redone to ensure that all of the infection has been removed.
Root canal treatment:
- First, the tooth is numb, along with the surrounding tissue. A dental dam is placed to keep the area dry.
- Then drill a small hole in the crown of the tooth. Through the hole we use very small files to clean out the entire pulp cavity and root canals, removing the pulp, the decayed nerve tissues, and any other debris.
- The tooth cavity is then flushed with water and sodium hypochlorite to remove any remaining debris and to be sure no traces of infected pulp remain.
- Next the clean, but now empty, pulp chamber and root canals are filled with a rubber-based material called gutta-percha and sealed with an adhesive cement.
- The exterior hole is then closed with a dental filling. Sometimes, this is sufficient and the procedure is finished. More likely, however, the tooth will require a crown to protect the tooth and restore function.
- If a crown is required, we take impressions of the tooth and send them off to a dental lab to fabricate the crown. When it is finished, you return and we place the crown permanently.
Does a root canal hurt?
Root canals at New Smile Dental really are not any more painful than a typical filling. During the procedure, the patient feels nothing. Sometimes, the pain that creates the need for the root canal can be confused with the procedure. Once the infected nerves and pulp are removed, your tooth no longer has any nerve feelings, but there will be some residual soreness as the surrounding tissues calm down from the infection. Any pain should be in the form of soreness, and not acute. If acute pain develops again, there is a possibility that not all of the infection has cleared, so we will need to see you again.
Tooth lifespan after a root canal
People assume that removing the pulp containing the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues would mean their tooth would have a limited lifespan. But the pulp is only important to the tooth during growth and development. One the tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, as the surrounding tissues nourish the tooth. A tooth that has had a root canal can last for the rest of the patient’s life.
Alternatives to a root canal:
The only real alternative is to remove the sick tooth. However, this will require a dental implant or bridge to fill the empty space and prevent the shifting of surrounding teeth. These solutions will ultimately cost more than the root canal therapy, and they will never equal the quality of keeping your natural tooth.
Schedule A Consultation
If you are interested in a Root Canal and would like to see if you are a good candidate, call (503) 925-9595 to schedule a consultation at our office in Sherwood, OR.