When your teeth become infected, the only way to reduce the risk of the infection spreading and protect your surrounding teeth and gums is with a root canal. Root canal therapy is designed to correct problems in the connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels surrounding your teeth, and you must see an endodondist for this specialized procedure.
Most people need to have a root canal when they have a significant amount of decay built up around a cavity or abscess, or they have experienced some type of blow to the tooth the tooth or jaw area that has triggered nerve damage within the tooth.
Reasons to Undergo a Root Canal
Some of the warning signs and symptoms that indicate you need to undergo a root canal include:
Pain in the tooth when biting down
Swelling of the face
Pain while chewing even soft food
Oversensitivity to hot or cold drinks and food
Since the symptoms of extensive pulpal nerve damage are similar to many other dental conditions such as tooth decay or gum disease, it’s important to undergo a thorough oral evaluation to find out if root canal therapy is necessary.
What to Expect with Root Canal Therapy
The first step in the root canal process is removing the crown of the tooth so that the dentist can access the pulpal tissue. The pulpal tissue is then removed completely, and the area around it is cleaned and shaped to create a bondable surface. At this time, the dentist may use a permanent filler compound to completely fill the open area and prevent further infection or discomfort.
A crown is then fabricated to top off the filling, and placed securely over the treated area so that you can maintain the shape of the natural tooth. In most cases, you will need to see the endodontist over the course of several weeks to make sure that the infected pulp and bacteria have been drained completely and thoroughly, and that the restored tooth is healing at a healthy rate.
Effects of Root Canal Therapy
Soft tissue inflammation after root canal therapy is normal, and you may experience excessive irritation and even bleeding for weeks after surgery. Once the mouth has adapted to the changes, you will need to take extra care when eating and chewing hard foods because the tooth will become more brittle.
Keep in mind that now that there is no pulp holding the tooth in place, the “skeleton” of the tooth is at risk for becoming fractured or chipped.
The treated tooth may also become discolored over time, because it has undergone extensive nerve damage. However, this does not pose a threat to the actual health of your tooth.
If you think you may need a root canal, consult with a dentist in your area for a complete oral evaluation. He or she will be able to refer you to an endodontist in your area, and may also be able to create a comprehensive treatment plan to help keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong after your root canal procedure.