Cavities and tooth decay affects more than the tooth enamel, they can actually extend deep into the tooth and damage the nerve as well. This nerve extends from the crown of the tooth down through the root, and into jaw. Infected nerve tissue can cause abscesses, damage to adjacent teeth, infections throughout the head, and severe toothaches.
Root canal therapy (also known as endodontic therapy) is the treatment that removes tooth decay and nerve tissue from these teeth. During the treatment, special equipment is used to clean out the inner nerve chamber of the tooth and then medicate it to destroy any infectious bacteria. The chamber is then filled and sealed off, preventing leakage around the root of the tooth or near the crown. In essence, it’s like having a filling performed; only it’s one that extends down into the root of the tooth.
Root canal therapy can save a tooth and allow it to stay securely in the mouth for many years to come. Unfortunately, those teeth are no longer vital though, and will need to have a crown placed over them to protect the tooth so that it can withstand normal use for many more years.
Root canals have a bad reputation for being a lengthy, uncomfortable process. Believe it or not, the majority of root canals are just like other types of dental treatment. There may be some discomfort associated with local anesthesia, or mild soreness from having the mouth open, but in essence they are a standard treatment that truly does not cause any severe discomfort to patients. As an added aid to improve patient comfort, many people ask for nitrous oxide or a mild sedative.
Posted on behalf of Mitzi Morris, DMD, PC
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