Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp (soft tissue inside your teeth containing blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue) becomes inflamed or diseased. During root canal treatment, your dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in treating the insides of teeth) removes the diseased pulp. The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are then cleaned and sealed. If the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result, and your tooth may have to be removed.
Signs and Symptoms for Possible Need of Root Canal Therapy
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
- Sensitivity to hot and/or cold.
- Severe toothache pain.
- Sometimes no symptoms are present.
- Swelling and/or tenderness.
- Pain when biting.
Reasons for Root Canal Therapy
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
- Infection or abscess has developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
- Injury or trauma to the tooth.
What Does Root Canal Therapy Involve?
At our office, your root canal will usually be done by an ENDODONTIST, who is a dentist who specializes in only performing root canals. Dr. Julio Cubenas is a highly experienced endodontist who comes to our office weekly to perform root canals, for the comfort and convenience of our patients. (see testimonials below)
A root canal therapy involves numbing the tooth, then a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) or other isolation device will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be filled with a special substance, that has low toxicity for most individuals, and then sealed with a temporary filling.
If a second appointment is required, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A temporary filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth (with very few exceptions) that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed as soon as possible. Teeth become much weaker and subject to fracture because of the access hole that is made in the tooth to do the root canal. The crown (cap) will protect the tooth and lessen the chance of it breaking thus restoring it to its full function.
After treatment your tooth may still be sensitive but this will routinely subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.
If you continue to care for your teeth and gums your restored tooth could last a lifetime. However, regular checkups are necessary; a tooth without its nerve can still develop cavities or gum disease. Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile.