You are probably visiting this page because you are experiencing pain and feel that you may need an endodontic treatment, or a “root canal”.
When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected or dies, root canal therapy is necessary to save the tooth. It is generally a comfortable treatment that can save your tooth and keep your mouth healthy.
What is endodontic treatment?
“Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.
To understand endodontic treatment, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel, is a hard yellowish layer called the “dentin”. And inside the dentin is a soft tissue called the “pulp”. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.
The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tips of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the roots. The pulp is important during a tooth’s growth and development. However, once a tooth is fully mature, it can survive without the pulp.
Why would I need this procedure?
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay extending into the pulp, repeated dental procedures on a particular tooth and fracture or breakage. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If “pulpal inflammation” or infection is left untreated, it can cause severe pain or lead to a dental abscess.
Symptoms of Tooth Infection:
- The tooth is extremely sensitive to hot or cold and the sensitivity persists or, in some cases, peaks and then suddenly stops or subsides
- The tooth hurts when biting or when placed under pressure
- There is ongoing throbbing pain from the tooth which continues even at rest
- The area around the tooth is swollen
- There is a bad taste coming from the tissues around the tooth
Sometimes, there are no obvious or noticeable symptoms to let you know there is a problem! Only regular dental visits and x-rays, as well as a detailed clinical examination, may reveal the underlying issue with a specific tooth.
How does a root canal procedure save my tooth?
We first remove the inflamed or infected pulp to eliminate the source of discomfort and to bring down any pressure in the region of the tooth. Then the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and shaped. Lastly, the space once occupied by the dental pulp is sealed and filled with an inert material to prevent fluids from re-entering the root canal system.
As a tooth that has had root canal treatment has been hollowed out to some extent and has lost its normal internal fluids, it tends to become brittle and can be prone to chipping, cracking or discoloration over time. Because of this, it is usually recommended that a crown or some other restoration be placed over the tooth to help maintain the strength of the tooth and to restore it to its proper function and esthetics. Once treatment of the tooth is complete, it continues to function like any other tooth in a patient’s mouth.
Will I feel pain during or after the procedure?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulpal inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.
For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Post-operative treatment of possible discomfort is something that you can discuss with your dentist during the course of your treatment.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly “different” from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, as with any other dental treatment, if you are experiencing severe or persistent pain or pressure, please call our office!