Do I need a root canal?
Before the practice of dentistry became more advanced, teeth with diseased nerves were pulled from the mouth. Thankfully, through root canal therapy, diseased teeth can be saved. In most cases, endodontic treatment is a simple procedure involving little or no discomfort. We mean it! Root canals aren't as bad as they once were and most people go through a root canal with little pain.
Over the years, root canal therapy has gotten a bad reputation for being painful and unpleasant. This is a misconception. While there might be some discomfort during an endodontic treatment, most people find it to be manageable. One thing is certain, the procedure is often necessary and it is often the only way to save teeth from extraction.
A root canal is needed when infections within the pulp of the tooth make it sensitive and painful. If left untreated, the infection can spread through the dental pulp to the gums and into the jawbone and cause many other serious health issues. When these infections occur, restorative dentistry is necessary – not just for dental health but for overall well-being. Only your dentist will be able to properly identify whether or not a root canal will be necessary for your dental health.
How does root canal therapy work?
In order to understand root canal therapy, one must understand the structure of the tooth. Beneath the outer enamel and dentin layer of the tooth is a hollow chamber, often called the “root canal.” This chamber within a tooth is filled with a substance known as dental pulp, which contains nerve endings and blood vessels and leads into the root and jawbone.
Dental pulp, which laces downward into the root, is the substance that supplies the tooth with nutrients, connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels. It is also essential for proper sensation in the tooth. Oftentimes, when a patient has a deep cavity, some of the decay can seep into the pulp and cause it to die. Worse yet, if the diseased pulp is left in the tooth it can become infected, which might result in the need for extraction.
Root canal therapy allows the dentist to completely remove the infected pulp, clean out the canal and seal up the tooth. The goal here is to protect the tooth from further damage and save it from being extracted. After creating an opening in the crown of the tooth, the dentist uses a series of tiny files to completely remove the pulp from the canal. Once it is cleaned out, the pulp chamber is permanently filled and a temporary filling is placed on top. To complete the restoration, the patient ultimately receives a permanent filling or crown.
What happens after a root canal?
Your Colorado Springs dentist might mention the need for a crown after a root canal, but there is an intermediate step that is often recommended. It is called the “post and core build up.” The first step is when the dentist places a post in the tooth to support its internal structure. After the post is in place, the tooth is filled with new core material, and once that is hardened the tooth is shaped and prepared to receive a crown. Dr. Tara Pool will then take an impression of the tooth that is sent to a dental laboratory so a crown can be custom-crafted to fit precisely in your mouth.
Can root canal infections be prevented?
As one of the best Colorado Springs dentists, Dr. Tara N. Pool is very adept at educating patients about dental hygiene and safety. As part of her preventative dentistry practice, she recommends the following habits:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss at least once a day
- Visit the dentist twice a year for a regular checkup
- Wear a protective mouthpiece during contact sports
If you would like more information about how root canal therapy can benefit you, be sure to contact a Colorado Springs dentist today. The entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve optimal dental health.