When the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection, root canal therapy may be needed in order to save the tooth. This procedure involves removing the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay. The remaining outer tooth structure is filled with medicated dental materials, followed by a crown, in order to restore the tooth to its full function. Root canal therapy is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that would otherwise would die and have to be removed. Root canal treatment can be highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime.
Why extracting a tooth instead can cost more:
Removing a problematic tooth costs less initially, but is less-desirable both in terms of overall health and cost. The void left by extracting (or pulling) a tooth can affect the health of adjacent teeth by allowing them to drift in position, which changes how the upper and lower teeth meet when chewing. Your "bite" affects the health of remaining teeth and overall health, as efficient chewing is an important first step in the digestive process. Properly aligned teeth exercise each other and stimulate gum tissue as you chew. Pulling a tooth instead can cause new problems, and ultimately, be more costly than choosing to save the tooth.
Root canal therapy may be necessary when:
• 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
• Injury or trauma to the tooth
What root canal therapy may involve:
The procedure requires one or more appointments performed in our office or by an endodontist (a root canal specialist).
After numbing the area, a sheet of rubber is placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. The top of the tooth, is opened, and the pulp, nerve tissue, and any decay is removed. When the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if a crown (or cap) will be necessary, a temporary filling is put in place.
The crown will be seated at the next appointment, after the canal and tooth are filled and sealed with special dental materials. The crown will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking. Although your tooth may remain sensitive for a time, it has been restored to its full function. The sensitivity will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.
Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will extend the life of your root canal treatment. You’ll receive instructions for proper home care from our staff.