Endodontic Therapy, or more commonly known, Root Canal Therapy, is a dental procedure to save a tooth with infected pulp from extraction. The pulp is the soft inside portion of your tooth, located under the two hard layers of enamel and dentin. Once the pulp of a tooth becomes infected, it can not heal itself but can be saved by one of our dentists, at Mid Valley Family Dental, through a therapy process. One of our general dentists can save the tooth, remove the infection, and most importantly, restore your tooth’s natural function.
Why do I need a Root Canal?
Root Canals are needed to remove the bacteria because the pulp is unable to heal on its own. The infection will continue to rage, killing the tooth, and can expand to surrounding teeth, killing multiple teeth and damaging the supporting bone.
The process of a root canal is the cleaning out of bacteria that has become infected inside the root of your tooth. One of our dentists clears the canal of the pulp, the nerves and the infected bacteria along with it.
To consider your tooth in layers, your tooth consists of two hard layers, the enamel, and dentin. Below the dentin are soft layers of pulp, this consists of nerves, blood vessels, connective tissues and the root of your tooth. This inner portion pulp mixture is necessary for the growth of your tooth, but once the tooth is developed, it is no longer needed. Your tooth is nourished from its supporting tissue.
Common reasons a patient may develop an infection in their tooth and require Endodontic Therapy include:
- The tooth had a fracture, possibly even a tiny hairline fracture that is not visible to the naked eye, but allowed passage for bacteria.
- The tooth has decayed, also known as a cavity, that has extended below the two hard layers and into the soft inner portion, allowing bacteria passage.
- The tooth was subject to an impact injury, any injury to the head, small or severe, that jarred the tooth in such a manner that a fracture allowed passage for bacteria.
- A tooth that has had a large filling placed, the filling material may sometimes not fill the entire space necessary to keep out all passage of debris.
- A tooth that has had repeated work, making it much more difficult to keep bacteria from achieving entry.
- Calcium deposits have accumulated and become infected inside the tooth.
How did the pulp become infected?
Bacteria can find its way into the tooth due to several scenarios, it can be from decay, a crack in the tooth, multiple procedures on the tooth, or an impact injury to the tooth. Once passage has somehow been created, bacteria can find its way in, and your tooth cannot heal without intervention from a dentist.
Is a Root Canal painful?
No! The Root Canal procedure is not painful. This is a common misconception. The procedure itself is not painful because we provide anesthesia to ensure our patients feel no pain during the root canal process. The pain that is so often discussed is the infected nerves. Your nerves are reacting to the infection inside your tooth, this pain is your body’s way of informing you that a problem is present. This pain may present itself as tenderness or as a sensitivity when intaking liquids or foods that are hot or cold. We need to remove the infected portion of your tooth.
What is the Root Canal process?
The process begins with removing the infected material followed by restoring the strength of your tooth. To do this, we first apply anesthesia to help the patient be more comfortable. We then go into the tooth, remove any decay present, and then remove the infected pulp inside the tooth and canal. We remove the entire inner portion of the tooth, leaving just the two hard layers of dentin and enamel behind. One of our dentists will then irrigate this space to ensure that it is entirely cleaned out and bacteria free. The space is then filled with a medicated rubber material. This material will help the area stay healthy while it heals.
Depending on the location of the tooth in your mouth, our dentists most likely will recommend a dental crown be placed over the tooth to provide additional strength. Your natural tooth structure has been compromised and may need that shield of strength that a crown offers so that it will not fracture. We will discuss the different crown options and help you decide which option is best for your situation. There are varying materials available. With your new dental crown, your tooth is now fully restored and functional.
Why not just have the tooth extracted?
In the past, pain in your tooth could easily mean having your tooth pulled or extracted. This is never our goal. Saving your original teeth have been found to always be the best option when available. Extracting teeth creates larger problems in the long run for patients. Once a tooth is pulled, your bone immediately responds with shrinkage or atrophy. This will create problems for your remaining teeth and visually alter your face shape. We are happy to help you save your teeth and keep your mouth healthy.
Along with our dental team, are here to answer your questions about Root Canal Therapy, also known as Endodontic Therapy. Contact our office for more information. 503-902-1622