A root canal, also known as endodontic therapy, is a dental procedure to save a tooth from infection and decay. When a tooth has been damaged or there is advanced decay that cannot be treated with a filling, endodontic therapy may be the only solution to save your tooth.
What Is Endodontic Treatment?
Endodontic therapy is a common procedure that involves creating an opening in your tooth to remove infected or dead pulp. Your dentist will create an opening through the crown of your tooth or at the back of a front tooth. The dead or infected pulp will be removed from your tooth and the empty root chamber will be cleaned and prepared for a filling. This filling, which resembles rubber, protects your tooth from bacteria and offers structural support. It may be combined with a small rod if your tooth needs additional support. After the endodontic treatment, a permanent crown must be placed to restore the appearance and function of your tooth.
When endodontic treatment is necessary, the only alternative will be a tooth extraction. While an extraction may be more affordable, it's always wise to save a natural tooth when possible. Endodontic therapy can help maintain your smile and appearance, maintain your biting force and sensation, allow you to chew properly, and protect adjacent teeth from damage. If your tooth is extracted instead, surrounding teeth may shift out of their normal position. The loss of a natural tooth also increases the risk of bone loss in your jaw which can make it more likely that you will lose other teeth.
When Is Endodontic Therapy Required?
You will likely need endodontic treatment if your tooth has become infected due to decay. Once a tooth develops a deep cavity or a chip, bacteria can enter the tooth and infect the soft pulp in the center. This is called an abscessed tooth. This infection may spread beyond the tooth and even cause life-threatening complications if it isn't treated. It may also be necessary to perform endodontic therapy due to a crack, a failed dental crown, an injured tooth, or if your tooth has already undergone repeated dental procedures.
You may need endodontic therapy if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Tooth sensitivity to pressure, hot, and cold
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Swelling or a lump on the gums near the damaged tooth
- Swelling of the face
- Throbbing or persistent toothache that may spread to the ear, jaw, or neck
Will it Be Painful?
While the "root canal" is a dreaded concept for many, the truth is endodontic treatment is not painful at all. In fact, it's the opposite: it's the cure for the tooth pain you are likely experiencing from an infected tooth or exposed root. Your tooth and surrounding areas will be fully numbed for the entire process.
There's no reason to be afraid of endodontic therapy. If you suspect you need endodontic treatment due to a persistent toothache, swelling, or tooth sensitivity, contact Prairie Hawk Dental in Castle Rock, CO today to schedule a consultation.