Endodontic treatments involve unique measures that protect teeth with damaged nerves.
When infection, decay, or trauma impacts the nerve tissue inside, a tooth will start to die and eventually decompose. Fortunately, endodontics procedures such as root canals can preserve the tooth and keep it stable for several more years.
Some of the most common situations where root canals are recommended involve teeth that have suffered from:
Abscesses — Abscessed teeth may cause visible drainage out the side of the root, creating a fistula (small pimple) on the gums. This swollen area can come and go, or may not be visible at all. Let us know if you notice a bad taste around the tooth, which could be a clue. An X-ray will show whether or not there is any swelling or a cyst around the root, indicating past or current infection.
Past Trauma and Nerve Death — Injuries to the front teeth happen frequently. But, they don’t always “kill” teeth right away. You may have been injured in an auto accident years prior, or hit in the mouth with a baseball in high school. Years later, the tooth starts to die. The dead nerve inside of the tooth makes it appear darker than the others, catching your attention.
Deep Cavities or Fractures in Teeth— Once tooth decay (a bacterial infection) eats through tooth structure and reaches the nerve, the soft tissues flare up and become infected. Enclosed in the tooth, the only way for swelling to be released is through the root or open decay. Large fractures are quite similar, as they expose the nerve to external elements. Covering the tooth with a crown or filling only traps bacteria inside, leading to progression of the infection. A root canal saves the tooth before it deteriorates even further.
Severe Pain or Hypersensitivity — In some situations a person can experience hypersensitivity or chronic toothaches for no known reason. Endodontic therapy removes the nerve, and thus the pain receptors in the tooth.
Cracked Roots — Like decay, cracks in a tooth’s root allow bacteria to enter into the nerve, causing inflammation and pain.
Endodontic Re-treatments — Unfortunately, it’s possible for a root canal to fail from time to time. Perhaps part of the nerve chamber was difficult to reach, or not all of the nerve was removed. Re-treatments are usually performed by an endodontic specialist.
Getting a root canal is a lot like having a filling, but the process takes longer because a larger area is being filled. Once the cavity is removed, the nerve inside the tooth is also taken out. Then the open canal is thoroughly cleaned, medicated, and sealed off to prevent the chance of reinfection.
Thanks to modern anesthetics and technology to make the treatment more efficient, having a root canal done is a relatively straightforward process. The overall length of treatment depends on the tooth, as some have more roots than others.
As with any type of dental treatment, there’s always the option of not treating the tooth at all. If your tooth needs a root canal, there are only two other choices: wait, or extract the tooth. Waiting can allow the infection to spread to other teeth and in certain circumstances even other parts of the body (such as your brain.) Pulling the tooth may seem like a cheaper alternative, but after replacing the tooth with an implant or bridge, the initial root canal process is usually a more efficient and affordable investment.
Do you think you need a root canal? Have you been told that endodontic treatment is necessary, but you want a second opinion? Call our Morning Star Dental office today to schedule a no-pressure consultation.
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