(Root Canal Therapy)
When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue and germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. If left untreated, an abscess may form. If the infected tissue is not removed, pain and swelling can result. This can not only injure the jaw, but it is detrimental to your overall health. Without proper treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.
The infected pulp tissue may or may not be painful and it may or may not be visible on a dental radiograph. Teeth that require root canal therapy are not always painful. However, signs you may need a root canal include severe toothache, pain upon chewing or application of pressure, prolonged sensitivity or pain in response to hot and cold temperatures, a dark discoloration of the tooth, and swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums. Root canal therapy may save the tooth and enable you to avoid the harmful effects of tooth loss. It is successful in more than 90% of the teeth in which the treatment is completed.
Endodontic treatment may take approximately one to three appointments to complete. Teeth can have one to four canals that need to be treated. An opening is created in the tooth to access the nerve, and the abscessed nerve is removed from the root or roots. The canals where the nerves had been located are then cleaned and shaped and a medication may be placed in the canal to facilitate healing.
Discomfort is not unusual between root canal appointments. Remember to avoid biting down on the tooth until the root canal is completed and the final restoration has been placed. You may have had no discomfort from the tooth prior to the root canal treatment or have been unaware that you even had an abscess; however, you may experience discomfort or swelling after the root canal treatment has begun. Contact the office if there is discomfort and/or swelling.
If your doctor prescribes antibiotics for the abscess, be sure to fill the prescription and take it in it’s entirety. It is important that you do this in order to quickly control the infection. If you do not take the prescribed medication, the resolution of the abscess may be delayed and problems with postoperative discomfort are more likely.
When it has been determined that the canals are free of infection, they are filled with a special dental material and sealed with a bonding medium. The abscessed area associated with the tooth will then begin to heal. It may take several months before healing is completed and for the tooth to become asymptomatic, that is, for any soreness in the area to disappear.
Once endodontic therapy is complete, the tooth is usually restored with a crown. This is done to protect the tooth and prevent it from fracturing. Failure to follow through with mandatory restorative procedures after endodontic therapy on a previously uncrowned tooth can result in a vertical fracture and possibly even loss of the tooth. If there is very little tooth structure remaining, we may also advise the use of a post and core to further support the final restoration. Your doctor will recommend restoration options best suited for your needs.
If you have any questions about your endodontic treatment or the final restoration of the tooth, please feel free to ask.