Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is made necessary when a cavity is allowed to reach all the way to this pulp. Regular cleanings and checkups prevent and detect problems early. Sometimes deep decay and restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system. This is dangerous, not to mention very painful.
Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold.
- Severe toothache pain.
- Sometimes no symptoms are present.
- Swelling and/or tenderness.
- Pain in tooth when biting down or chewing
Reasons for root canal therapy:
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
- Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
- Physical Irritation brought on by aggressive tooth decay
- Injury or trauma to the tooth.
Why is root canal therapy necessary and how it’s performed?
Without treatment, the infection of the dental pulp will spread to the bone around the tooth, making it not able to hold the tooth in place.
Treatment begins with the initial removal of the tooth crown, or top, to allow access to the pulpal tissue. Once the affected pulpal tissue is exposed, the affected area is removed. The area surrounding and containing the pulpal tissue is carefully cleaned, enlarged, and shaped to provide a clean, bondable surface for filling with a permanent filler to prohibit any further infection and discomfort. After filling, a crown is fabricated to complete the rescue and restoration of the natural tooth. The procedure is generally spread over several visits to assure the infected pulp and associated bacteria have been adequately drained.