What is root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy, usually referred to as a root canal, focuses on treating the inside of an infected tooth. A healthy tooth is comprised of different layers surrounding a vital network of nerves, connective tissue, blood, and cells. It is this important inner layer, known as the dental pulp, that tells you how hot or cold your food is. If a tooth has become injured, chipped, cracked, or decayed to the point where bacteria can reach the inner layer, the tooth will become infected, often accompanied by pain and lingering sensitivity. Once this happens, the only solution to save the tooth is root canal therapy.
The goal of root canal therapy is to physically remove the inner dental pulp, thereby removing the source of the infection. Once the inner tissue and nerve supply is removed, the inside of the tooth is then sterilized, killing off any bacteria, and then sealed to prevent bacteria from re-entering the inner chamber space.
Root canal procedures have the reputation of being extremely painful. However, many people report that there is actually no more discomfort than a routine filling, although it can take more time to complete. For the first few days following the completion of a root canal, the tooth may feel sensitive or a little tender due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection present before the procedure. This discomfort lasts for a short time and usually can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications.
The American Association of Endodontists state that root canal treatments save more than 17 million teeth per year. With proper care, root canals can last a lifetime.
Do You Need Root Canal Therapy?
The nerves and dental pulp within a tooth can become irritated, inflamed, and/or infected due to severe decay, fillings that are too large, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, a crack or chip in the tooth, or in cases where the face has sustained trauma.
Some signs that you may need root canal therapy are:
- Swelling and tenderness of the jaw or the gums that surround the tooth
- Toothache pain or discomfort when pressure is applied or when chewing
- A throbbing sensation in or around the infected tooth
- An increased and prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold beverages and foods
- Discomfort severe enough it wakes you from a sound sleep
- Discoloration or darkening of the injured tooth
- A recurring pimple on the gums
If you are experiencing any of these signs, contact your Traverse City dentist at (231) 935-1948 for a thorough examination. This examination begins with an x-ray and a thorough history of symptoms you are experiencing. Oddly enough, many people will experience “referred pain”, where they may feel the pain in other areas besides the infected tooth. Because referred pain can often be misleading, Dr. Pfefferle performs a systematic sequence of tests on multiple teeth, ensuring that the correct culprit is pinpointed. Once a correct diagnosis is made, Dr. Pfefferle can recommend treatment. In the best case scenario, the tooth can be saved with root canal therapy. However, if the tooth is severely compromised and damaged, sometimes an extraction is necessary to clear the infection. Rest assured the team at Cherry Bay Dental will go over all options available to you given your specific situation.