Root Canal Treatment

Nobody wants to hear that they need a root canal treatment, but this procedure does have an undeservedly bad reputation. If you actually speak to anyone who has received root canal therapy, you’ll most likely be hugely reassured by their positive response because the truth is that a root canal shouldn’t feel any worse than having a filling, although it will probably take longer to complete.

Why Would I Need a Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment might be necessary if the tough outer coating of a tooth becomes damaged because of trauma or decay. Usually, teeth are protected by tooth enamel which is the hardest substance in the human body, but any crack, chip or hole in the enamel will allow disease-causing bacteria to penetrate the inner layer of the tooth which is called the dentin. Dentin is much softer than tooth enamel and is made from lots of tiny tubules tightly packed together.

One of the initial symptoms of damage to a tooth is often increased sensitivity to hot or cold or towards sweet and sour foods because these sensations can travel through the tubules, reaching the central part of the tooth called the pulp. Eventually, bacteria will destroy the dentin, creating a cavity in the tooth and without dental care, the bacteria will reach the pulp.

Your tooth pulp consists of nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels and is essential while the adult tooth is still developing. Once the tooth is fully developed, your tooth can survive adequately without the pulp. An infected pulp can be extremely painful, causing a continual throbbing pain, or discomfort when you try to bite or chew on the tooth. Root canal treatment removes the pulp and all the infection-causing bacteria so the tooth can be fully restored.

What are the Symptoms of a Tooth Infection?

The main symptom is the pain, but other signs that something is wrong with a tooth includes noticing the gum around the tooth is swollen, tender and red, and there might even be a pimple on the gum where the infection is trying to escape. In the worst case, a severe tooth infection could cause fever, facial swelling and a general sense of being unwell. Without treatment, it could develop into a bad tooth abscess, and you will most likely lose the tooth. Particularly severe tooth infections can become life-threatening when the infection spreads beyond the gums and jaws.

How Can a Dentist Tell If My Tooth is Infected?

Dr. Hastings can carry out various diagnostic tests to assess if a tooth is infected. An x-ray is extremely useful for assessing the tooth and will show the extent of the damage to the tooth, and the number of tooth roots and the shape of the root canals. The x-ray is also used to plan treatment. Another test is to place something cold on the affected tooth and to ask you how it feels in comparison with the same test on a healthy tooth. The next stage is to carry out the treatment.

What to Expect When You Have a Root Canal Treatment

Before treatment begins, the tooth is thoroughly numbed to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible during the procedure. Next, Dr. Hastings will make a small opening in the crown of the tooth. The tooth crown is the part usually visible in the mouth. The opening allows him to access the pulp in the center of the tooth and to remove all the infected tissues. The root canals extending into the tooth roots are also cleaned out using specially shaped tools. The number of root canals to be cleaned depends on which tooth is treated, as for example, a front tooth will only have one tooth root and root canal, whereas a back tooth will have several roots and root canals and is more complicated to treat. Once Dr. Hastings is sure all the infected tissue is removed, the empty space is disinfected and sealed to prevent further re-infection. When the infection is particularly severe, topical antibiotics might be placed inside the tooth, and it may be temporarily sealed, just to ensure all the infection is eliminated before the tooth is permanently restored.

Usually, a root treated tooth is restored with a dental crown, and this is because it is most likely substantially damaged or decayed and there isn’t enough of its original structure to support an ordinary dental filling. Entirely covering up the tooth restores its shape, strength, and function, so you can smile, talk, chew and bite food normally, without fear of pain.

How Long Will a Root Treated Tooth Last?

A root treated tooth can last for years or potentially for life. Sometimes a tooth can become re-infected, and it might be possible to re-treat it with another type of root canal treatment. However, if a tooth does become re-infected, it is necessary to carefully assess it to ensure re-treatment is the most appropriate procedure.

Is There Any Alternative to Root Canal Treatment?

Before root canal treatment was developed, an infected tooth had to be removed. Without this therapy, you will almost certainly lose the tooth. Ideally, regular check-ups will detect any damage to a tooth such as a small crack or chip, or the first signs of decay so they can be easily treated and before you get an unpleasant symptom like a toothache.

Please Don’t Ignore a Toothache!

If you have a toothache or have damaged a tooth, please make an appointment to see our dentist Dr. Jon Hastings as soon as you can as we regard dental pain as an emergency. A toothache is a sure sign something is wrong with the tooth, and the sooner you receive treatment, the more likely Dr. Hastings can save the tooth. If you are fearful of dental treatment, please don’t worry as we will be extremely gentle with you and can always provide additional sedation if needed.

Here at Times Square Dental, we always do everything possible to save natural teeth and will explore every option before suggesting an extraction, and root canal therapy is such a beneficial procedure. Once you have root canal treatment, the pain in the tooth should soon disappear, and you will quickly feel much more comfortable. Also, you’ll realize that root canal therapy definitely isn’t to be feared. Contact our caring dental team today!