The term “root canal” is infamous for its ability to inspire fear in anyone who has a toothache. However, root canal therapy is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it is one of the most effective ways to relieve dental pain (not cause it!) and save a damaged tooth from extraction. At Abington Family Dental Care, we have an on-staff specialist who can perform this procedure with precision and gentleness. On this page, you will learn more about what root canal therapy is, how you can tell if you need it, and how it may benefit you.
Root canal therapy is often referred to simply as a “root canal.” However, a root canal is not really a dental treatment — it is part of a tooth’s anatomy. It is the space inside the root of a tooth that contains its nerves and soft tissues. Collectively, the substances inside the root canal are known as tooth pulp.
When the tooth’s pulp becomes damaged or is no longer functioning, root canal therapy may be necessary. During the procedure, Dr. Thomas, our practice’s endodontist, creates a tiny hole in the tooth in order to access the pulp. He cleans out the damaged area and removes the tooth’s nerve. Then, he fills in the tooth with a special material called gutta percha.
Thanks to modern dental techniques, patients usually feel little to noting during the procedure. You may experience some soreness afterward, but that should disappear relatively quickly.
The most common cause of damage to the tooth’s pulp is decay. When bacteria penetrate the tooth’s outer layers and invade the pulp, it causes inflammation and pain. Dental trauma can also leave the pulp vulnerable to infection.
Some symptoms that indicate root canal therapy may be necessary include:
If you believe you need root canal therapy, seek treatment as soon as possible. Left unchecked, an infection in a tooth can spread to surrounding areas and cause systemic illness.
Some individuals choose to have an infected tooth removed rather than undergo root canal therapy. However, extraction should be used only as a last resort. Root canal therapy can save the suffering tooth, which spares you the expense of paying for tooth replacement later on. Keeping your tooth in place also supports bone health and ensures that nearby teeth do not drift out of their proper positions.
Root canal therapy is successful in the majority of cases. After you recover from the procedure and receive a restoration to protect the treated tooth, you can expect to enjoy full dental function and freedom from the oral pain that you were previously experiencing.