Root Canals and Endodontic Therapy

Root Canals are a type of Endodontic Therapy that treats the inside of the tooth. In the past, if you had a tooth with an infection, you would probably lose the tooth. Today, root canal treatment can be accomplished in our office and save your tooth and smile.

What is the root pulp?

The outside visible part of your tooth is covered with a very hard white material called enamel which is the hardest substance in the body. Below the enamel is another very hard substance called dentin. The pulp is the soft inner tissue of your tooth below the dentin. It  is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during its development.

The pulp extends from the top of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues around the root. Although the pulp is important during the growth and development of teeth, once a tooth is mature and has fully erupted through the gums, it can survive without the pulp. The tooth continues to be nourished by the surrounding tissues and provides the sensations of hot and cold.

Why is a root canal needed?

Inflammation or bacteria can enter the pulp tissue when a tooth is cracked, has a deep cavity, or has had repeated dental procedures. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. If the infected tissue is left untreated, pain and swelling may result and an abcess may form. This can injure your jawbone and be detrimental to your overall health. Without the proper treatment, your tooth may have to be removed. Endodontic therapy - a root canal - aims at clearing the infection as well as protecting the tooth from subsequent infections so that it can continue to function well for the rest of your life.

Teeth that require endodontic therapy may or may not be painful. Signs that you may need a root canal include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Pain upon chewing or application of pressure
  • Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Dark discoloration of the tooth
  • Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact our office as soon as possible.

What happens during a root canal?

The dentist performs the following procedures in Root Canal treatment:

  • Opens up each of the infected roots of the tooth
  • Cleans out the diseased pulp
  • Seals the root
  • Fills the root with a dental composite

Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. If your tooth had extensive decay, our doctor may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breakage. As long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.

Can every tooth be saved with a root canal?

Most teeth can be saved by endodontic therapy. However, occasionally a tooth extraction may be necessary if:

  • Roots are severely fractured
  • The tooth does not have adequate bone support
  • The tooth cannot be restored
  • Root canals are not accessible

Endodontic therapy is intended to help save your tooth from extraction. Missing teeth can make you self-conscious, affect your ability to bite and chew, cause other healthy teeth to shift, and have a negative impact on your overall health. By choosing to receive endodontic therapy, you are choosing to keep your smile healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Academy of General Dentistry American Orthodontic Society American Dental Association American Academy of Implant Dentistry Texas Dental Association Pankey Institute
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