Practicing conservative and comprehensive dentistry, our dentists take all measures necessary to save diseased and injured teeth. In most instances, retaining biological tooth structure is best for a patient’s oral health and wellbeing when a tooth is salvageable. One way to preserve natural tooth structure, even in severely damaged teeth, is to perform root canal therapy. This treatment addresses issues that affect the inside of teeth.
The Root Canal
The root canal is a part of tooth anatomy. Inside the roots of teeth are small, chamber-like areas where the nerves end. The root canal also houses dental pulp – a substance that contains cellular material. If a tooth is diseased or damaged, the root canal can become exposed to irritants, debris, and bacteria.
When the root canal is exposed due to a broken or diseased tooth, it is very susceptible to infection since it is no longer protected from irritants and bacteria. If the contents of the root canal (the nerve endings and dental pulp) become infected, patients normally experience toothaches and pain when biting on food or drinking cold or hot beverages.
Treating an Infected Root Canal
When a root canal becomes infected, patients need to receive treatment as soon as possible. This is because an infected root canal threatens the livelihood of a tooth as well as surrounding oral tissues. Infected root canals can lead to the death of a tooth or the development of a painful and damaging infection called an abscess.
Root canal therapy accomplishes two objectives: it saves the tooth from surgical removal and restores a patient’s ability to chew food comfortably. Endodontic treatment involves accessing the root canal with small, tiny tools and removing its infected material. Once the nerves and the dental pulp are removed, the root canal is flushed of all debris and sealed with a compound called gutta-percha so that the inside of the tooth remains structurally strong and protected from future damage.
After root canal treatment, some patients may require a restoration like a filling or dental crown. A restoration will protect external tooth structure. Receiving root canal therapy is not uncomfortable and most patients report that the sensation they feel is no different from receiving a standard filling.
For more information about root canal treatment, call our friendly team at Tate Family Dentistry.