There is nothing that will ever be as good as your own natural teeth. Sometimes, though, despite our every effort to maintain a healthy smile our teeth have something else in mind. Natural teeth are meant to last a lifetime, but sometimes damage occurs and it prevents the mouth from retaining the natural tooth. Be it an injury or trauma to a tooth, fracture or deep cavity, sometimes the inside of the tooth becomes infected. When the soft tissue of the tooth or the pulp becomes infected, it becomes necessary to seek immediate medical attention in an effort to save the tooth.
The pulp of the tooth is made up of a network of nerves and blood vessel. For this reason, when an infection ensues pain is unavoidable. If left untreated, this damaged pulp can lead to infection that will ultimately damage the bone structure surrounding the tooth and may even enter the bloodstream. If the pulp of a tooth becomes infected root canal therapy will be the last attempt to save the tooth before it must be extracted.
Root canal therapy is sometimes frowned upon due to the common misconception that it is extremely painful. However, the pain is not coming from the root canal, but rather the infection. Root canal therapy is meant to relieve pain associated with an infected pulp, not to cause it.
What Does Root Canal Therapy Involve?
Root canal therapy involves going into the tooth to remove the damaged pulp, cleaning and sterilizing the area, before shaping, filling and then sealing the tooth. Whether or not you will be awake for your root canal depends strongly on the condition of the tooth and the degree to which the tooth pulp is infected. For more severe cases general anesthesia may be used.
What to Expect from a Root Canal?
Root canal treatment is the last attempt to save an infected tooth before your dentist will recommend extraction. If you suspect that you have an infected tooth you can expect that after scheduling a visit to your dentist the following will occur:
- X-Ray – The first step if your dentist suspects that you may require a root canal is an x-ray, which will show him where the decay is located.
- Anesthesia – After your dentist has determined that you do in fact require a root canal he will proceed to administer local anesthesia to the infected site.
- Pulpectomy – Once the infected tooth is numbed your dentist will then open the tooth and remove the damaged pulp. After he is sure that the tooth is free and clear of infection, he will clean and disinfect the area.
- Filling – Once the tooth is disinfected your dentist will then fill the decayed tooth with gutta-percha material before sealing the tooth with cement.
You will be given strict recovery instructions following your root canal therapy, of which you should consciously follow.
You will also be given tips on how to prevent further infection from any of your other teeth, of which you should also take care to consciously follow.