When the pulp, or the soft inner tissue of a tooth, becomes infected or dies, root canal therapy, or endodontic treatment as it is also known, is necessary to save the tooth. This happens when the hard outer shell of the tooth, or enamel, has failed. The most common reasons for the pulp of the tooth to become compromised are a cracked tooth, a deep cavity, or an injury to a tooth. It is generally a comfortable treatment that can save your tooth from extraction and keep your mouth healthy.
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 is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.
Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although, on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
- The tooth is sensitive to hot or cold
- There is throbbing, severe tooth pain
- The area is swollen and/or tender
- You have a bad taste in your mouth
- Sometimes there are no obvious or noticeable symptoms present. Only regular dental visits and digital x-rays, as well as a detailed clinical examination, can reveal the underlying trauma
Reasons for root canal therapy:
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth)
- Infection or abscess has developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
- Injury or trauma to the tooth