Root Canals Can Repair and Save an Infected Tooth
A root canal is a treatment designed to repair and, hopefully, save a tooth that is damaged by decay or infection.
In the center of our teeth, we having living tissue called pulp. This pulp is made up of nerves, blood vessels and connective issue. For a variety of reasons, the pulp can become irritated, infected and extremely painful. We treat this damaged pulp using a common procedure called a root canal.
A root canal focuses on treating the space within the tooth, its root canal, and pulp chamber in order to treat damaged its “nerve” or pulp tissue.
Tooth nerve and pulp damage
When a tooth’s nerve tissue is infected, the bacterium breaks down and starts to multiply in the tooth’s pulp chamber, resulting in an infected or abscessed tooth. This infection can spread out from past the root of the tooth and into other areas of the face, neck and head.
An infected tooth may cause:
- Swelling of the face, head or neck
- Bone loss in the area near the tip of the tooth
- Drainage issues
There are a number of ways that tooth pulp can be damaged, including:
- Deep decay
- Cracks or chips in the tooth
- Repeated dental procedures
- Trauma to the mouth or face
Signs that you may need a root canal
Sometimes there are no symptoms that the root of your tooth is damaged or infected. However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it you might need a root canal treatment:
- Pain in the tooth while chewing or biting down
- Swelling and tenderness in the gums near the tooth
- Tooth is sensitive to hot and cold (lasting even after the heat or cold has been removed)
- A pimple on the gums near the tooth
- Darkening or discoloration of the tooth
The root canal procedure
First, we will take an x-ray of your tooth to see the size and shape of the canal and check the condition of the surrounding bone. The x-ray will also help us see signs of infection. If we determine you need a root canal, the rest of the procedure will go as follows:
- Use local anesthesia to numb the tooth
- Place a rubber dam around the tooth to keep out saliva
- Drill an access hole in the tooth and remove the bacteria, decayed nerve and damaged pulp
- Flush out debris and clean root canal
- Place medication in canal (if necessary)
- Seal the tooth
There may be additional follow-up appointments necessary to finish filling and sealing the interior of the tooth. Depending on the tooth’s condition, further restorative work, such as a crown, may be required.