Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. In the past, diseased or injured teeth were usually pulled. Now, a tooth can often be saved through endodontic (root canal) therapy.
What is Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy?
Endodontic therapy is a procedure completed by a general dentist or endodontist under local anesthetic where the infected pulp and internal pulpal chambers are cleaned out, filled and sealed to prevent any further bacteria growth or infection. Endodontic therapy may be completed in one or multiple visits and usually requires a final restoration such as a crown.
Why would I need endodontic therapy?
Endodontic therapy may be necessary for various reasons such as:
Deep Decay / Abscess
- When you have deep decay on a tooth that is left untreated the tooth may present with an abscess. An abscess is in an infection and inflammation that can be visible on a dental radiograph. A dental abscess may also present with a fistula which is a bump on the gum tissue.
Repeated Dental Procedures / Large Restorations
- When a tooth continually needs to be restored or has a very large restoration it increases the chance of needing future endodontic therapy because the restoration will become closer to the pulp (nerve) which may cause inflammation and infection to develop.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome
- Cracked tooth syndrome is when the fracturing of the tooth has begun presenting with symptoms such as sharp pain when pain, pain when releasing from bite, pain when grinding side to side and sensitivity. Often times these teeth will require endodontic therapy prior to the final restoration.
Chips, Fractures and Breaks
- Depending on where the chip, fracture or break is on the tooth structure endodontic therapy may be needed to restore and save tooth.
- Trauma to a tooth that resulted in an injury to the ligaments, bone support or tooth structure and integrity may cause inflammation or exposure of the pulp which can lead to an infection and would require endodontic therapy.
What are the symptoms of a tooth that may require endodontic therapy?
- Persistent toothache (Throbbing, aching pain that can radiate to jaw, neck and/or ear)
- Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold
- Swelling in your gums, face or cheek
- Possible swollen lymph nodes underneath your jaw or neck
- Sensitivity and/or pain when applying pressure to tooth or chewing
- Bad Breath
- Foul Taste in mouth
Is endodontic therapy painful?
There is a vast misconception that endodontic therapy is painful, actually this procedure is a pain relief procedure. Often times patients will be given an antibiotic prior to the procedure to clear up any infection which ensures the proper administration of local anesthetic. Local anesthetics have come a long way over the last decade which allows patients to be properly numbed which increases comfort during dental procedures.