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Root Canal Therapy

To help you understand why you would need a root canal, you must first understand the anatomy of a tooth.

Teeth have three layers:

Enamel, Dentin, and dental pulp which is the soft tissue inside. The dental pulp contains the connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels that nourish the tooth. The pulp is important during development, however the tooth can survive without it during one's adulthood.

When the dental pulp becomes diseased or injured, the pulp tissue dies and if not removed, the tooth could be lost. Once the pulp is removed and the root canal is thoroughly cleansed, the tooth is sealed off for protection. Once sealed, a crown is placed over the tooth to help make the tooth stronger.

We need to perform root canal treatment when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected.

There are several reasons why the pulp can become inflamed or infected but most commonly, it's from deep decay. A large cavity will cause nerve problems because the bacteria from the decay will infiltrate the tooth and grow. A second reason is if a tooth has had repeated dental procedures. This sometimes creates inflammation which causes the tooth to hurt which does not get better. Trauma or a blow to a tooth such as a fall can badly crack a tooth which can cause nerve damage.

If a tooth becomes inflamed from one of these reasons and the tooth is left untreated it will cause pain and eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is an infection that will cause damage to the bone and worse, sometimes spreading throughout your body.

Symptoms of nerve damage include pain, prolonged temperature sensitivity especially to heat, pain while chewing or biting, swelling, tenderness in the nearby gums, and discoloration of the tooth. Sometimes there is no pain at all and will only appear on X-ray.

Typically, the procedure takes three visits and is as follows:

  • An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber

  • Pulp is removed & the root canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped

  • Medications may be put into the pulp chamber/root canal(s) to help prevent infection

  • A temporary filling is placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth between visits
    (Your dentist may leave the tooth open for a few days to drain. You might also be given medicine to help control infection that may have spread beyond the tooth)

  • Temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are cleaned and filled

  • In the final step, a gold or porcelain crown is usually placed over the tooth for protection
    (If an Endodontist performs the treatment, he or she will recommend that you return to your family dentist for this final step)

Root canal therapy has come a long way over the past few years and is no longer a procedure to be fearful of. In just a few visits, Shoreham Family Dental can save your tooth and your smile through root canal therapy.