Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay, infection, or injury. Having a root canal done on a tooth is often the treatment of choice to save a tooth that would otherwise have to be extracted.
In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed. The resulting space is filled with a biocompatible material and specialized cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canal spaces. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, most teeth that have root canal treatment will require a crown (cap) to protect the tooth, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function. Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
- Swelling and/or tenderness.
- Severe lingering sensitivity to hot and cold.
- Moderate to severe pain when biting on a tooth.
- Sensitivity to tapping or pressure on the tooth.
- Toothache that wakes you up in the middle of the night.
- Severe toothache/pain.
- Sometimes no symptoms are present but a reaction is shown on an x-ray.
Most of the time a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort, involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!