Root canal treatment can help to preserve a biological tooth that has been extensively damaged due to facial trauma or as a result of large areas of decay. It is ideal to save a biological tooth rather than remove and replace it—even with a dental implant—for optimal form and function.
Unfortunately, when a tooth has a deep crack or decay has invaded the tooth’s interior, the pulp of the tooth is susceptible to infiltration by bacteria that live in the oral cavity. This can cause the tooth’s pulp tissue to die, risking the stability of the tooth. Furthermore, an infection that enters the pulp can easily access the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, which could ultimately result in a potentially fatal condition called sepsis. Therefore, having an endodontist perform a root canal can be a life-saving proposition.
The endodontist will access and remove any infected pulp material by drilling a small hole in the tooth. The patient is treated with a local anesthetic prior to the procedure, so this process will not cause discomfort. The pulp is removed, and the empty chamber is thoroughly sanitized. The last step in root canal treatment is to fill the empty root canal with gutta percha, which is similar to rubber. This step prevents the bacteria from collecting there again.
The treated tooth is more susceptible to breakage as a result of root canal treatment, so it should also be fitted with a dental crown in order to give it extra support. Your endodontist will likely refer you to your general dentist for that portion of the treatment.
Although root canals have gained the reputation of being quite painful, that perception is a false one. Most patients who actually receive root canal treatment report that the experience involves no more discomfort than having a cavity filled. So, this procedure need not induce significant dental fear in you. Talk to your provider if you are having any anxiety about your root canal.
If you would like more information on the need for and benefits of root canal treatment, call our office and speak to one of our knowledgeable staff members.