A root canal allows for a tooth to remain in place when trauma, decay, or infection has impacted the nerve of the tooth. Since extraction is often the only other option, salvaging the base of a tooth is a better choice. Once a tooth is extracted it must be replaced or the patient risks problems with remaining teeth shifting, chewing, and/or aesthetics if the tooth is located in the smile line.
Symptoms that indicate the need for endodontic therapy (root canal) include pain when biting down, sensitivity to temperature, swelling, or a pimple like sore on the gum tissue.
A light tap on the tooth in question or a shot of cold air are a couple of indicators that root canal treatment is needed. A dental x-ray is often the most reliable way to identify a problem with the nerve of a tooth; one will be needed to show how many roots are involved and their position for the dentist to assure all canals are successfully treated.
Once a tooth has fully erupted, the nerve of the tooth is no longer needed. The root canal process involves creating an entry point in the tooth and using endodontic files to remove all the contents of the root canals (pulp tissue, nerve, and infectious material).
The dental provider will flush each canal and depending on need will either treat with antibiotics or pack with a material that will help provide stability for the tooth. The entry point of the tooth must be sealed; a dental crown is often placed to complete endodontic treatment.
Your dentist may elect to prep your tooth for the crown right away or wait until there is certainty that the root canal was successful. There are situations where retreatment may be needed particularly if infection was involved. A temporary will be used to seal the tooth until a final restoration can be prepared and placed.
A dental crown that seals the tooth will be made to look and function just like surrounding natural teeth; caring for a tooth that has been treated is the same as you did before root canal therapy. Brush twice daily and floss every day; use an antibacterial rinse, if prescribed; and see your dentist every six months for cleaning and dental exam.
For more information or to schedule a visit, contact our team at Hulen Crossing Family Dental today.