Root Canal Therapy
A "root canal" or, endodontic therapy, is a procedure available to save a tooth that is infected and would otherwise require extraction. There are many reasons that teeth can become infected including cavities, previous large fillings, crowns, cracks, fractures, trauma, and extreme wear.
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what they do not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth could ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth as well as loss of bone in the area where the tooth was removed.
While root canal therapy has a high degree of success, it is not 100% guaranteed. It is very important to have a permanent restoration (usually a crown) placed within 30 days of the root canal. If a permanent restoration is not placed, the tooth can further decay to the point where the root canal must be re-done or, worse, the tooth must be removed.
Reasons For Root Canal Therapy
What does Root Canal Therapy involve?
A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by your regular dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist). While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and isolate the area. Your dentist or specialist will drill a hole in the crown (top) of the tooth, and access the roots through the canal. After the decayed pulp is removed, some medication is applied to help with pain relief and to curb bacterial growth. A filling is then placed in the root canal, and after a couple of weeks, it may be recommended to place a dental crown over the tooth.