What You Should Know About Root Canals
In the old days of dentistry, suffering from a diseased or injured tooth nerve often meant losing the tooth itself and sometimes even the teeth around it. This ‘commando’ approach was all too common 10 to 20 years ago. Thankfully, dental medicine has come a long way since then, with extractions now the last course of dental treatment; it’s a procedure viewed by many dentists today as extreme and only as a last resort if other options prove insufficient in alleviating your dental problems. Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic therapy, is just one of the many forms of treatment aimed at salvaging your tooth while ridding you of nerve pain, infections and other problems—no extraction is required.
When are Root Canals Needed?
Teeth aren’t just made of dense bone. Each tooth in your mouth hides a root canal or a pulp, which contains nutrients and a network of nerves that connect your tooth and its root. Pulp tissues however, can be compromised with the onset of disease and injury to teeth, resulting in pain and heightened sensitivity. The problem with many people suffering from the problem is that they choose to ignore the pain, thinking it will go away on its own. If you make this mistake, your tooth might become infected and you might very well need an extraction.
This is where root canals come in.
What are Root Canals?
As mentioned earlier, root canal therapy is a dental solution that eliminates the need for extraction. Instead of just taking out the problematic tooth, root canal therapy salvages the diseased pulp found in the root canal. The damaged, or infected pulp, is siphoned off from the canal, which is then reshaped and sealed with a crown for added strength and protection of the tooth.
Is Root Canal Therapy Really Necessary?
That is a question best answered by your dentist, as he or she is in the best position to determine what your best options are for dental treatment. A better question to ask is this, “What happens when I don’t get root canal therapy, or any other type of treatment?”
A host of problems could arise if an injured or diseased nerve is left untreated. An infection can set in very quickly due to the fact that your tooth can’t heal itself. The problem starts if an abscess, a pocket of pus, develops at the root tip. The pus could cause severe damage to the bone around the tooth if left untreated, causing it to fall off. It is understood that a full-blown infection can be very painful.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canals require at least 2 to 3 appointments with the dentist. The procedure is straightforward, with an opening first created to get access to the root canal and pulp chamber. The pulp is then extracted from the root canal, which is then cleaned and conditioned for refilling. Your dentist will decide whether it’s best to fill the canal with medication and cover it up or leave it open for faster healing. A temporary crown is typically then used to cover up the pulp chamber. After the appropriate healing time, the temporary crown is removed and replacement with a permanent crown made of gold, a porcelain-metal alloy, or pure porcelain.