Root canal therapy is also known as endodontic therapy or endodontic treatment. The team of dental professionals at Loretto Family Dentistry use this dental treatment to treat infected dental pulp and repair and save a damaged or decaying tooth.
What Is Dental Pulp?
The crown and the root are the two main parts of your tooth. Inside the root is a space known as the root canal. Housed within the root canal, beneath the enamel and dentin layers is a crucial mushy substance known as dental pulp. Each of your teeth has a pocket of pulp that has nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels.
The nerves in the pulp help you distinguish between hot and cold items and detect pressure and pain. The blood vessels ensure that the tooth stays nourished and moisturized. Lack of moisture and nutrients can cause brittleness in teeth. Your dental pulp is also a secondary source of dentin, which is the calcified tissue under the enamel.
Why You May Need a Root Canal
Keeping your dental pulp healthy is crucial because exposure results in infections that can negatively impact your health. The enamel and dentin layers are the first lines of defense when it comes to the pulp. These substances are strong but are not immune to poor oral habits, trauma, or disease. Bruxism and repeated dental procedures like fillings can also wear down and weaken the layers protecting your dental pulp.
If you have severe toothache pain or sensitivity when drinking or chewing, these are signs you may need a root canal treatment. Other symptoms that your dental pulp is infected include tender and swollen gums as well as swelling around the face, neck, or head nearest the tooth. Your tooth may also have a hole or may start to darken. Dental pulp that is infected must be removed immediately to avoid losing the infected tooth and surrounding teeth and developing other severe oral issues.
What to Expect During a Root Canal Treatment
The goal of a root canal treatment is to remove the infected pulp from the canal and seal the remaining vacuum. The procedure may require multiple office visits if the decay is severe. We’ll start by taking an x-ray to see the extent of the infection and then numb the treatment area with local anesthesia.
A plastic rubber sheet goes around the tooth to keep the treatment area free of saliva. We use a drill to create a hole to access the dental pulp. Using root canal files, we’ll remove all signs of infected pulp. If the infection was extensive, we’ll put medication in the canal and cover it with a temporary filling.
Once we eliminate all signs of infection, we’ll plug the empty root canals with gutta-percha, which is a rubber compound. Next, if needed, we replace the natural crown with an artificial one. If your tooth is in good shape, we’ll apply a permanent filling instead.
Root canal therapy is an effective way to save your natural tooth, which is always what we prefer. For more information on this treatment or to book an appointment, call Loretto Family Dentistry at (940) 287-3535.