Root canal therapy, also called endodontic therapy, is a treatment that is used when the nerve of a tooth has become infected or decayed. A root canal is the preferable treatment to save a tooth from extraction. Dr. Kaplan, Maple Avenue Family Dentistry’s staff endodentist, is a specialist in root canal therapy. His patients often mention how much they enjoy his cantorial “concerts” while he works on their teeth.
Some of the signs that a root canal is necessary are toothache or pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, swelling, a darkened tooth, or an abscess on the gums. Sometimes there may be none of these signs present at all.
During a root canal, the infected nerve is removed and the canal is cleansed. Then it is replaced with a solid dental material that is resistant to infection.
After a root canal there should be a crown or cap placed over the tooth. This will protect it from further decay and make the tooth fully functional again.
Root canals have a very high success rate.
Many people fear root canal therapy. Getting a root canal is not as painful as it was in the past. It can be relatively quick and painless when performed by an endodontist, a dental specialist trained in performing root canals.
What are Root Canals?
A root canal is the treatment of the pulp, or nerve of a tooth. The pulp is the soft tissue of a tooth that connects the tooth inside the gum. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels. When the pulp becomes infected, it can become very painful because the pulp contains nerve tissue along with arteries and lymph vessels.
Teeth that are candidates for root canals are ones that may have suffered some type of blow to the tooth or jaw. This can often damage the nerves within the tooth. Tooth decay that has not been treated and goes deep into the nerves of the tooth can result in infection or decay in the root of the tooth.
Symptoms of Nerve Damage in a Tooth
When a root canal is necessary, the pain in the mouth will be a clear signal that something is wrong. Symptoms of nerve damage requiring a root canal consists of pain in the tooth area when chewing food or biting down, a tooth that is extremely sensitive to hot or cold, an aching sensation in the tooth and area of the affected tooth, and often swelling of the face or jaw often occurs.
Root Canal Procedure
The first thing the endodontist will do is to completely numb the area of the mouth where the tooth needing the root canal is located. A rubber dam is placed over the area of the mouth that will expose just the tooth needing the root canal. This keeps any bacteria from saliva from entering into the tooth area. A dental drill is used to expose the tooth pulp, and then the infected area is removed by using root canal files. These files are different sizes and help eliminate all bacteria and infection from the tooth area.
Once the area is completely cleaned and healed, a cap can be fitted on the tooth.
The process may sound scary, but it is really painless once the area of the mouth has been numbed. The endodontist may prescribe pain medication in case of discomfort once the numbness wears off.
A dentist will refer a patient experiencing pain to an endodontist for root canal therapy. The patient will be glad for the referral to put an end to a painful tooth.
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