A root canal is located beneath gum tissue at the base of the tooth. Everyone has seen a diagram of a tooth and seen the pointy sections at the bottom of the tooth. Depending on which tooth we are discussing, the number of these pointy sections or roots will vary. Any time the tooth experiences any kind of breach, it is possible for infection to enter this area and become a problem.
Some of the many questions that patients ask include:
What, if anything, is in the root of the tooth? The canals of the roots of teeth contain blood, pulp, and tissues … if infection has permeated the contents of the canal, it is necessary to remove the contents to save the integrity of the tooth. This process is known as endodontic therapy or more commonly as a root canal.
What constitutes a breach? Any kind of trauma to a tooth like a hairline crack, break in the tooth, or excessive dental decay can allow bacteria to penetrate the dental enamel resulting in infection.
What kind of symptoms can I expect? Sometimes there aren’t any, but usually there is pain when biting down, tooth may become discolored; swelling may occur; there is sensitivity to hot or cold; or pimple like sores may appear.
Can I deal with this on my own? You have two options if your dental condition has reached this point … see your endodontist for treatment or lose your tooth. While the reputation for root canal therapy often describes a horrible experience, the treatment is quick, thorough, and is the only option available to save your tooth.
What happens during a root canal? The contents of the root’s canals are accessed through an opening in the tooth; the contents are removed with a dental file; the canals are flushed and if infected treated appropriately. The access point is permanently sealed. With successful treatment, the patient may never require any further treatment for this tooth.
What can I do to prevent this from happening to me? Sadly even the most diligent patient may experience this type of infection. Preventive measures are important such as brushing at least twice every day with a fluoridated tooth paste; flossing daily; and seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning and dental exam.
If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to call our office at Access Endodontics today!