The 411 On Root Canal Therapy

Whether you have broken or chipped a tooth or it is starting to decay, your dentist will most likely recommend a root canal procedure or an extraction. Root canal therapy is effective in about 85 percent successful for saving your teeth so a complete extraction may not be necessary. While a common treatment, most people do not fully understand what root canal therapy entails. This guide and your dentist's assistance will educate you on the root canal procedure and if it is the right option for you.

The Process

Before you can understand the process, you will need to understand the interior and exterior components of the teeth.

Each tooth is made up of a hard layer of enamel, which protects the underlying tooth pulp. This pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves.

If the tooth becomes inflamed or infected, you will experience a great deal of pain. Without treatment, the inflammation or infection can spread through the gum tissue, affecting other teeth. Many patients with an infected tooth feel pain and discomfort through their entire mouth and head.

To save the tooth or teeth and alleviate the pain, a root canal procedure is performed.

A local anesthetic is used to numb the tooth and surrounding gum tissue. A small opening is made in the crown of the tooth. Small dental tools are used to clean out the infected pulp through this hole in the crown. The actual canals that lead to the tooth's roots are also cleaned.

Once all infected pulp is removed, the root canals are filled with a rubber-like material. Cement is then applied to the exterior, creating a sealant over the tooth.

The Recovery

Many patients worry about the potential pain and discomfort a root canal procedure can cause. However, the local anesthetic ensures you will not experience pain during the treatment. Since your dentist will need to clean out the tooth pulp thoroughly, you may experience pressure during the therapy.

After your root canal, avoid chewing on any hard foods for a few days. You will need to continue visiting your dentist for periodic checkups, since the cement filling may fracture if you are not careful.

The Alternatives

If root canal therapy does not sound right for you or your dentist believes saving the tooth is not possible, consider an extraction. After surgically removing the infected tooth, your dentist will discuss options for restoring your smile back to an appealing and functional state.

Implant dentistry and even dentures are all effective options in restorative dentistry after an extraction.

To learn more about root canal therapy and to determine if your tooth can be saved with oral surgery, contact your dentist today for a full evaluation.