ROOT CANAL THERAPY gets a pretty bad rep in pop culture, but that’s based on a very outdated image of dentistry and endodontics. In reality, modern root canal therapy eliminates pain rather than causing it, and it actually saves the affected tooth from a dangerous infection so that it doesn’t have to be extracted.
When A Tooth Needs Saving
Ideally, we are able to keep our teeth healthy enough that root canal therapy is never necessary, but this isn’t always the case. Whether because we don’t brush and floss often enough or because of a genetic predisposition to cavities, sometimes tooth decay reaches the pulp in the core of the tooth, leading to inflammation and infection.
Symptoms of inflamed or diseased pulp can range from nothing at all to temperature sensitivity and even excruciating dental pain. Over time, inflamed dental pulp becomes infected and then dies, and the bacteria can spread into the gum tissue and the surrounding bone through the opening at the tip of the root, forming a painful and sometimes life-threatening abscess.
The Basics Of Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy gets rid of the infected and necrotic tissue without getting rid of the tooth itself. During the treatment, diseased pulp tissue and debris are carefully removed while the patient is under local or full anesthesia. The root canals are then mechanically reshaped and remaining pulp spaces are disinfected. We do this through an opening at the top of the tooth that allows us to identify and treat the canals.
To prevent oral bacteria from contaminating the disinfected root canal spaces, we seal off the canals with gutta-percha, a rubber-like root canal filling material that is solid at body temperature but moldable when heated or compacted. These properties make gutta-percha ideal for forming custom seals in the root canals and preventing contamination.
Your Tooth After Root Canal Therapy
After the diseased or infected pulp is removed, the tissues around the tooth can begin healing. During the healing period, the tooth has a temporary restoration. Eventually, a permanent filling or crown will replace it, and you’ll be able to keep using your natural tooth — a much better option than implants or other types of false teeth.
Healthy Smiles Begin At The Roots
It’s certainly preferable to not need root canal therapy in the first place, but, far from being what TV and movies portray it as, this treatment is a great, pain-free way to save a tooth that has already suffered decay or injury, enabling patients to keep their natural teeth longer. If you have questions about root canal therapy, just give us a call or schedule an appointment!