A root canal, also called endodontic therapy, is a common procedure that can save a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. If your tooth has become abscessed, severely damaged, or has extensive decay, endodontic therapy can stop the pain and restore your tooth.
Root Canal Procedure
“Endo” is Greek for “inside” and “odant” means tooth. Endodontic therapy treats the inside of your tooth, which contains the soft pulp with blood vessels and nerves. The pulp extends from the crown to the roots of the tooth. While important in tooth development, mature teeth can survive without the pulp. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed, this procedure is necessary to stop pain and prevent an abscess, a serious infection that can spread to other areas of the body and cause life-threatening complications.
The goal of endodontic therapy is removing infected or damaged pulp at the center of the tooth before the tooth is restored. An opening will be created at the back of your tooth or through the crown so dead or infected pulp can be removed. The empty chamber of the tooth will be thoroughly cleaned and enlarged so the canals can be filled. A temporary filling may be installed before the tooth is fully restored with a custom crown.
When Is a Root Canal Necessary?
Endodontic therapy is necessary when the pulp becomes damaged, inflamed, or infected. This is usually the result of deep tooth decay but it can also be caused by repeated dental procedures, a crack or chip, or an injury to the tooth that does not cause visible damage.
You will probably experience several signs that you need endodontic treatment, although some people have no symptoms. Watch for the following:
- Throbbing or persistent toothache.
- Pain radiating to your ear, jaw, or neck.
- Sensitivity to pressure, cold, or hot while eating and drinking.
- Facial swelling.
- Swelling or bump on the gums, usually near the damaged tooth.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Recovering from Endodontic Therapy
Your lips and gums will be numb for several hours after endodontic treatment. You may feel pain or an ache as the anesthetic wears off, but this can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication or a stronger prescription from your dentist. Avoid chewing with the tooth until the tenderness wears off. Teeth treated with endodontic therapy are more brittle and prone to damage without the pulp. A custom crown is created to perfectly match your teeth and is installed to protect the treated tooth.
At Fulks Family Dental, we strive to make your procedure as comfortable as possible. We even offer IV sedation for intensive dental procedures like endodontic therapy to help you relax during your appointment and get the treatment you need to feel better. If you are experiencing a throbbing toothache or other symptoms of an infected tooth, contact us right away to schedule an appointment.