Root canal – two words misunderstood more than most! Root canal therapy is an uneventful procedure performed to save a damaged, yet strategic, tooth. In almost all cases, extraction of a tooth is less desirable. However, many factors need to be considered when making a decision about root canal treatment, and it’s important to understand the benefits of all your alternatives.
When the outer surface of a tooth is breached, the breakdown (decay) continues inward toward the pulpal (nerve) tissue space. Bacteria enter and invade that space causing an inflammation, which, if caught early on, is what we call a reversible pulpitis. The tooth can become sensitive but still has the capacity to heal and function normally. If too many bacteria overwhelm the nerve, however, it is an irreversible pulpitis and will require root canal treatment.
A tooth that is overly sensitive to temperature or painful while chewing may also signal underlying damage. Often, a nerve “dies” slowly, without symptoms. A traumatic blow to a front tooth can also result in a nerve dying years later. Many patients complain of a front tooth that has darkened and recall an incident from years past.
Teeth grinding and clenching may not seem like a serious problem, but this repeated and persistent assault on a tooth overloads its ability to stay healthy. Micro fractures result, opening up an alternate pathway for bacteria to enter the tooth.
Excessive clenching often propagates these fractures deeper and deeper into the tooth, ultimately reaching the nerve. Often, large pieces of teeth break, sheared along these planes, often into the nerve itself. Recognition of this pattern on multiple teeth by Dr. Rubin and Dr. Quinn will prompt the recommendation of a protective occlusal guard.
Routine x-rays may show changes in the bone surrounding the root of the tooth, indicating a chronic irreversible problem. When we find the problem soon enough, we can remedy it and help you avoid the discomfort of a root canal infection.
Root canal treatment is usually completed in one visit. A local anesthetic allows us to remove the damaged and infected pulpal (nerve) tissue from the tooth without discomfort. Understanding that everyone has a different pain threshold, and that we are often dealing with an inflamed nerve, we are acutely aware of how important it is to maintain your comfort. Although this concept applies to all procedures we perform, we know that often the reason that this procedure is undertaken is because the tooth is painful to begin with. The good news is that the pain goes away.
It’s no secret that root canals are perceived as an unpopular procedure. The truth is that root canals don’t cause pain; they relieve it. If you think you may need a root canal, please don’t put off treatment as this may eventually result in loss of the tooth. Please contact our Northport Family Dental office to arrange an appointment so we can get you the relief you need.
"I don't think about smiling anymore. I just do it."
In this video, Kathy relates her experiences throughout her treatment and how she was able to go about her social ... Read more