Root canal therapy, or endodontics, is a dental procedure that allows a patient to keep a tooth in the presence of nerve or pulpal disease. Root canal therapy is a procedure that is necessary when a tooth’s pulp or the living tissue inside a tooth is irreversibly damaged by any external or internal irritant. Some of the most common reasons for pulpal or nerve damage may be from a large cavity, trauma, infection, or any combination of this list. In order to preserve the tooth structure, the pulp is removed and the resultant empty space where this pulp was is cleaned, disinfected, medicated, shaped, and re-filled with a material that seals the canal from further problems. This allows a dentist to place a filling or crown on the affected tooth.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
Some of the signs or symptoms that a patient might experience or see that may indicate a root canal are the presence of an abscess or pimple on the gum adjacent to a tooth, recurring and long lasting hot and/or cold sensitivity, significant tooth pain that is spontaneous or while chewing, and swelling and tenderness anywhere in the mouth. Sometimes no symptoms are apparent in a tooth that requires a root canal.
Modern advances in dentistry have provided the dentist with the tools to perform root canals efficiently, with greater success, and with a great deal of comfort. The process usually can be performed in one appointment. Once a local anesthetic is given, the tooth is isolated with a rubber dam membrane to keep it free of saliva. A small hole is made in the tooth to access the pulp area and the chamber is then cleaned and shaped. Once disinfected, the canal chamber is filled with an inert rubber and finally a filling is placed into the access area.
As the tooth heals there may be some sensitivity but this will subside. Your dentist usually provides further information and care if required.