Endodontic therapy, also known as a root canal, is used to treat severe infections in the tooth and protect the tooth from future infections.
If a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp tissue inside of the tooth and cause infection. Left untreated, an abscess may form. The infected tissue must be removed to eliminate and prevent pain and swelling. An untreated infection puts your your jawbones at risk for injury and can lead to the loss of the tooth.
Teeth that require root canal are not always painful. However, some signs you may need a root canal include:
- Severe toothache
- Pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
- Dark discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
What happens during endodontic therapy (root canal)?
Thanks to modern techniques and anesthetics, today's endodontic therapy is painless. Most patients find it similar to getting a regular filling. Root canal treatment involves one to three visits during which your dentist or endodontist removes the infected tissue. After the tissue is removed, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed.
The last phase of endodontic therapy is filling the tooth with a dental composite. If your tooth had extensive decay, your doctor may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breakage. As long as you continue to care for your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing, and checkups, your restored tooth can last a lifetime.
Most teeth can be saved by endodontic therapy. However, tooth extraction may be necessary if:
- Roots are severely fractured
- The tooth does not have adequate bone support
- The tooth cannot be restored
- Root canals are not accessible
Missing teeth can make you self-conscious, affect your ability to bite and chew, cause other healthy teeth to shift, and have a negative impact on your overall health. The goal of endodontic therapy is to spare you those problems by saving your tooth. By choosing to receive endodontic therapy, you are choosing to keep your smile healthy and beautiful for years to come.