Endodontic therapy is commonly referred to as a root canal. But the root canal is actually the hollow section within a tooth containing nerve tissue, blood vessels, and other cells or pulp. The pulp provides nourishment and moisture to the surrounding material. It senses hot and cold temperatures as pain. Above the root sits the tooth’s crown, and the root attaches the tooth to the jawbone.
What is Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is the treatment to save a tooth that has been affected by decay or infection. The pulp, nerves, bacteria, and decay are removed from the tooth. The space left behind is filled with medicated dental materials that restore the tooth.
Do I Need Root Canal Therapy?
A few common signs and symptoms will alert you to the need for root canal therapy.
Consult your dentist if you notice:
- A gum abscess
- Temperature sensitivity
- Tooth pain
- Swelling or tenderness
There are also a few common causes of root canal damage, including:
- Decay due to cavity
- Repeated dental procedures on a tooth
- An injury, chip, or crack to the tooth
Diagnosis usually involves an X-ray to confirm root canal damage.
When is Root Canal Therapy the Best Option?
When the pulp is injured or infected, the tissue will die. Infection weakens the jawbone and breaks it down, and surrounding ligaments loosen. The infection will soon spread throughout the mouth, causing even more problems.
It’s best to handle your injured or infected root canal as quickly as possible. Root canal therapy is the optimal treatment to save a tooth that would eventually have to be removed. This is because extractions are more costly and cause problems for the teeth surrounding the extracted tooth.
How is Root Canal Therapy Performed?
Dr. Coates or an endodontist can perform root canal treatment. Numbing medication is applied to the gum near the impacted tooth. After the tooth has been numbed, a rubber dam is placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva.
An access opening is made on top of the tooth, and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening – one at a time – to remove the pulp, nerve tissue, and any bacteria and tooth decay present. The tooth is then thoroughly cleaned and sealed with a permanent or temporary filling if additional appointments are needed.
A week later, at the next appointment, the roots and inside cavity of the tooth are filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling is placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. Next, a crown should be placed on the tooth to provide protection.
After root canal therapy, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed. Over-the-counter pain medications should alleviate the pain. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment. It’s essential to follow all after-care instructions provided by Dr. Coates.
Preventing Root Damage
Prevention is key in avoiding root canal damage. Dr. Coates recommends that you:
- Brush your teeth upon waking, at bedtime, and one other time each day using fluoride toothpaste
- Floss between teeth, removing plaque each day
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
- Minimize intake of sugary drinks and snacks
- Replace your toothbrush regularly
- Ask Dr. Coates about dental sealants
Dr. Coates is Here to Help
Once you’ve undergone root canal therapy, results will last best when you properly care for your teeth. There may be a need for retreatment in case of new infections or injury.
Schedule your appointment with Dr. Coates for more information about root canal therapy today! You can also give our Long Beach office a call at 562-434-6414.