What is a Root Canal?

In dentistry, our goal for our patients is to save and maintain natural teeth whenever possible. In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased or traumatized nerve, the tooth may have been lost. Today, with endodontic treatment, or root canal treatment, your tooth can potentially be saved. Root canal treatment is a routine dental procedure typically involving one or more visits. When necessary, having a root canal can help save your tooth and preserve your smile.

When is a root canal needed?

The innermost layer of a tooth, or the pulp, is comprised of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels. If the pulp becomes diseased or injured and can no longer heal on its own, it may die or become inflamed. These problems with the pulp are typically caused by deep decay, cracked teeth, or traumatic injury to the tooth. If the inflamed or infected pulp is not effectively treated, it can lead to pain and swelling. Even in the absence of pain or symptoms, the infection can lead to the destruction of bone surrounding the tooth or adjacent teeth. Without the proper treatment, your tooth may need to be removed.

What are the signs that a root canal is needed?

Teeth that require root canal therapy are not always painful. However, signs you may need a root canal include severe toothache, pain upon chewing or application of pressure, prolonged sensitivity or pain in response to hot and cold temperatures, a dark discoloration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact our office.

How is endodontic treatment completed?

Root canal treatment typically involves one or more visits. First, local anesthetic will be administered to ensure the area is numb and comfortable throughout the entire procedure. Next, your dentist will remove the affected tissue. Once the nerve or pulp of the tooth is removed, the interior of the tooth will be shaped, cleaned, and sealed. Finally, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling. With proper follow-up care, good habits, and regular dental exams, the restored tooth can last for many years.


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