When the pulp and root of your tooth become infected, a root canal treatment becomes necessary. Root canal therapy is a procedure that removes the infected pulp and the root, cleans out the canals and seals the tooth with a crown. Root canals are a necessary treatment to save an infected tooth, as well as prevent the spread of a devastating infection.
At Downtown Dental Care, Dr. Christianson performs this procedure with an expert hand in the safe and comfortable environment of our office.
Why Might You Need a Root Canal?
If you have cracked or broken a tooth and exposed the pulp, or tooth decay has eaten past the enamel into this layer, bacteria are likely to get inside. Once inside the tooth, bacteria multiply and cause an infection, which inflames and irritates the sensitive pulp tissue. This damages these areas, and can slowly kill the nerve of the tooth. Other issues that can lead to irritation and inflammation of the pulp and the root, and will require root canal therapy include repeated treatment, overly large fillings, or trauma.
Signs a Root Canal is Needed
Infection in the tooth can lead to an abscess, which is a pus-filled sac that forms when the bacteria and infection spill out of the tip of the tooth’s root. An abscess is one of the most common signs that a root canal is needed. You might experience other symptoms of tooth infection as well:
Swelling of the face or neck.
Bone loss in the jaw as a result of the abscess.
Pain and tenderness when chewing that lingers long after eating is over.
Tooth sensitivity. Again, the sensation lasts, rather than dissipating when the irritant is gone.
Your tooth may become discolored.
In some instances, you might not experience any issues. This doesn’t, however, mean treatment isn't necessary. If there is an infection, a root canal will be needed.
Diagnosing an Infection
In order to determine that a root canal is necessary, Dr. Christianson will perform a complete exam, including taking some x-rays. The x-ray will show the condition of the tooth and if there is truly an infection inside (as well as if it has spread into the surrounding bone). X-rays will also help Dr. Christianson make the best plan of action based on the canals of your teeth and where the infection is.
Root Canal Procedure
On the day of your procedure, you will first receive a local anesthetic. Your tooth will be cleaned and dried, and measures will be taken to keep it that way, which prevents saliva and new bacteria from getting in. A hole is drilled into the tooth, to provide access to the interior. Small tools are used to clean the pulp and the roots, and then shape them to make room for the filling material. If an abscess has formed, it is taken care of as well. The spaces are cleaned thoroughly and disinfected, killing any bacteria that might still be hiding out. The hollow spaces of the tooth are then filled to seal out any new bacteria from sneaking in. The tooth is then prepared and impressions taken for a crown, which you will receive upon a second visit (a temporary one will be provided in the meantime). The crown serves as a support for the tooth, holding it together and providing strength, while also providing another layer of protection against reinfection. You may experience some minor discomfort for a few days after, but once you have healed, you can return to your normal activities.
Root canal therapy is a highly successful treatment that saves an infected tooth from needing to be removed. Treated teeth can usually last just as long as the rest of your teeth. If you are experiencing tooth pain, and suspect infection, give us a call today at (503) 420-7600!