What Is Root Canal Therapy?
By Eugene D. Stanislaus on November 12, 2013
When tooth decay is left untreated, it can spread to the sensitive roots of your teeth, resulting in an increasingly painful and risky problem. Without restorative dentistry care, the decay can spread to other teeth or result in tooth loss. To combat advanced decay and help our Brooklyn patients preserve their teeth, we offer extremely effective and safe root canal therapy.
What Can Root Canal Therapy Do?
Root canal therapy (also called root canal treatment or, simply, root canal) is the established method of removing decay from within a tooth’s roots. Normally, cavities form and are treated in the upper, visible portion of a tooth, called the crown. However, when decay spreads down to the roots, the tooth is at a greater risk of decaying entirely or infecting adjacent teeth.
Similar to a typical cavity filling, root canal treatment removes any infected tissue and replaces it with synthetic material to restore the tooth. After a root canal, there should be no signs or symptoms of infection.
Symptoms of Decaying Roots
Many cavities go unnoticed initially, which is why dentists recommend occasional X-rays for early detection. When signs of decay do present themselves, patients often complain of a mild toothache or sensitivity. These symptoms are also present in infected roots, but in a more prevalent way. You may require root canal treatment if a tooth exhibits the following:
- Pain or tenderness: Unlike the hard enamel surrounding a tooth’s crown, the roots contain softer tissues and dental pulp - a collection of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Decay in this area is likely to produce noticeable discomfort, especially when your teeth are under pressure such as when chewing or biting.
- Sensitivity to temperature: If the nerves within your roots are suffering decay, your tooth is likely to be extra sensitive to hot or cold temperatures. Most patients notice this when consuming certain foods or drinks.
- Swelling: Due to disease below the gum line, advanced tooth decay may result in swelling around the tooth or in the jaw. If an abscess has also formed in or near the roots as a result of decay, an inflamed bubble may also appear in the gum tissue.
- Discoloration: When a tooth has decayed to the roots, that decay may also be visible from the crown. A dark discoloration in the tooth may be evidence of the cavity.
The Root Canal Procedure
If you believe you may have root canal damage, or any tooth decay for that matter, you should consult your dentist as soon as possible. After determining that root canal therapy is necessary, you will be scheduled for treatment, as follows:
- Local anesthesia will be administered to the area, numbing your tooth, gum, and jaw for the duration of the procedure. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) may also be used in conjunction.
- A dental drill will remove decay from the crown of your tooth and connect to the natural cavity of your root canal. This will allow a smaller, less invasive tool to scrape decayed dental pulp from the canal. If an abscess is present under the roots, it can also be reached through the canal and subsequently drained.
- Your tooth will be filled, both within the roots and the crown. Antibiotics will also be used to disinfect the tissue and prevent future decay. If most of the tooth was preserved, a regular filling may suffice after the roots have been treated. Often, however, the tooth requires additional support and is covered by a dental crown.
Preserve the Health of Your Teeth
No matter the severity of your decay, our cosmetic dentistry practice can offer proper treatment to restore the health and beauty of your teeth. Whether you need a traditional filling, root canal therapy, or alternative restorative treatment, contact us to schedule an appointment and see what we can do for your smile!
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"I've been very happy with my experiences at Dr. Stanislaus's office, and highly recommend him to anyone in the New York City area. He and his staff go above and beyond to do the best job possible."-R.B. (Patient)