When a tooth breaks, the internal pulp or roots are exposed to bacteria. Sometimes, tooth decay progresses far enough that bacteria reaches the inside of the tooth. When this happens, a root canal (also called endodontic treatment or root canal therapy) might be needed to eliminate the bacteria and save your tooth.
What Is Endodontics?
Endodontics is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the inside of the tooth including the tooth’s pulp and roots.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal refers to the canal of a tooth’s root. The term, however, is also used to describe root canal therapy, which is a treatment designed to eliminate a severe cavity that has infected and inflamed the internal pulp of a tooth and its root canal.
Before root canal therapy was developed, a tooth infected to this degree would have had to be removed to prevent further infection from developing. A root canal procedure is often recommended in place of a tooth extraction to save your natural tooth.
Signs You Might Need a Root Canal
When a cavity has grown large enough for the infection to reach the interior of your tooth, it is likely that you will experience some painful symptoms because the interior pulp of the tooth contains the tooth’s nerves.
Signs and symptoms that a root canal is needed include:
- Persistent tooth pain or toothache
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
- Painful, swollen, or tender gums
- Gum discoloration
- Tooth abscess
- Tender and/or swollen lymph nodes along the jawline
- Bad breath
If you experience any of these symptoms, we strongly encourage you to schedule a dental examination right away. To avoid further complications of oral infections, it’s best to address them as soon as possible.
The Root Canal Procedure
Root canal therapy begins with a dental examination and dental x-rays to determine if you truly need a root canal before our dentist begins the process.
Root canal therapy entails several detailed processes. The procedure overall, however, encompasses the following major steps:
Administration of Anesthetics and Treatment Area Preparation
First, our dentist administers local anesthetics to ensure the treatment area is completely numb so that you experience no pain or discomfort during the process.
We then place a small dental dam that helps to isolate the treatment area and shield the rest of your mouth to keep it clean.
Removal of the Pulp
Once fully prepped, our dentist drills a small hole in the surface of your tooth to access the pulp and root canal. Dr. Zalesky then removes the tooth’s pulp, sterilizes the inside of the tooth and its root canal, and smooths out the interior surfaces.
Once clean and dry, the root canal and tooth interior are filled with a rubbery dental substance called gutta-percha. Our dentist fills the top of the tooth with a temporary dental filling until your permanent crown is placed.
A dental crown holds the remaining tooth together and protects its interior from bacteria and further infection. We might fit you with a temporary crown on the day of your root canal.
Once your permanent, customized crown is ready to be placed, Dr. Zalesky will permanently affix it over the remaining structure of your natural tooth.
Complete Tooth Restoration and Preservation at Aurora Hills Dental
If you experience any symptoms that could indicate severe tooth decay, we welcome you to schedule a dental examination at Aurora Hills Dental. Dr. Zalesky can evaluate your tooth and develop a treatment plan designed to preserve your teeth, eliminate painful symptoms, and improve your overall oral health.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, please contact our office today.