Dental Care

Root Canal Information

You dentist might have told you that you need a root canal procedure, but you're reluctant because you don't have any idea of what's involved.

About the only thing you've heard are all the stories about how painful the treatment can be. Those stories aren't true, but let's go through a couple of basics before addressing what's involved in such a procedure.

The term "root canal" describes a natural cavity or cavities found within the center of every tooth. A nerve and a soft, pulpy material lie within each tooth's.

This nerve, and the pulp, can become infected and/or undergo degenerative changes, which in turn can adversely affect the health of the tooth and the surrounding tissues.

A Procedure Overview and Why They're Performed

A root canal procedure is an endodontic treatment designed to resolve problems occurring within that area of the tooth.

Performed by a dentist or endodontist, the procedure can repair and thereby save a badly-decayed or infected tooth, even in the first part of the mouth as with front tooth treatment.

It can also ensure that the infection does not spread to the tissues surrounding the tooth's root and cause inflammation.

More as a exception than as a rule, a calcified procedure is sometimes necessary.

The Procedure

This dental intervention involves removing the tooth's nerve along with organic debris remaining from the breakdown of nerve tissue, bacteria, bacterial toxins and the tooth's pulp.

Each one of those materials can produce tissue irritants which can cause an inflammatory response, so all of them must be removed from the basis of the tooth.

The tooth's hollow interior is then cleansed, filled and sealed to minimize the potential for bacterial re-colonization and to prevent fluids from seeping inside, becoming stagnant, and eventually decomposing.

The seal also contains and encapsulates any organic debris or material that might not be completely removed by the cleansing process, preventing this material from seeping out and triggering an inflammatory reaction.

Without this treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth can become infected and lead to the formation of abscesses or persistent inflammation.

Fortunately, once a tooth has emerged through the gums during youth, its nerve is not terribly important for the tooth's day-to-day functioning and future health. Although the nerve does provide the sensation of hot or cold (which will be lost in that tooth after this procedure), it is safe to remove.

A diseased tooth's pulp is also removed, because it can provide a medium that bacteria thrive in. An abscessed tooth and a great deal of pain are the likely results. The best solution for this problem is to remove the diseased tooth's pulp at the same time its nerve is removed.

In addition to an abscess, an untreated infection in this area of the tooth can cause swelling in parts of the face, neck or head, bone loss around the tip of the root, and drainage extending out from the root into the gums or cheek.

As you can see, there are several reasons to have this procedure performed if your dentist deems it necessary.

Signs Indicating You Might Need a Root Cleaning Procedure

Not everyone with an infected root canal has symptoms, but most people do, and some of them can be quite severe.

Some of the typical signs that indicate you might need such a procedure include:

  • tooth pain or sensitivity upon exposure to hot or cold temperatures, often lasting several minutes after the trigger is removed,
  • severe tooth pain when you chew or apply pressure to the site,
  • persistent toothache,
  • tenderness or swelling of the gum near a tooth.

These Dental Interventions are Highly Effective

The treatment usually require one or two visits to complete, not including any follow-up visits that might be needed.

Despite the reputation these much-maligned procedures have for being painful, there should be little to no pain during the procedure itself due to the anesthesia you'll be given. You can, however, expect to feel some soreness for at least two or three days afterward.

The good news about these procedures is that they've been shown to be successful over 92% of the time, and their benefits usually last for the rest of your life. In the rare case of having complications, the procedure can be repeated or extended.

The biggest advantage is that your tooth can be saved and will not need to be extracted. Although tooth extraction can be one of the alternatives, it's always better to keep your natural teeth than have them pulled out.

So be aware of the typical root canal symptoms.


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