What keeps your tooth alive and kicking? The blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue make up the dental pulp inside your tooth. They provide teeth with nutrients and have limited healing ability. When inflamed by invading germs, severe tooth pain usually follows. The conservative cure for many toothaches is root canal treatment. At Stadium Dental Center in Jefferson City, Missouri, if you’re wondering what root canals area or why they’re recommended, we want you to know your options.
What is a root canal?
Nerves and blood vessels enter at the tip of the tooth’s roots. They travel the length of the tooth in narrow spaces called canals. Each root has at least one canal and some teeth have multiple roots.
Why might I need root canal therapy?
Tooth decay, fracture, or trauma may cause the pulp to become inflamed and/or infected. Often, this leads to the death of the pulp. Inflammation creates pain when chewing with the affected tooth, or when consuming hot or cold drinks. Without treatment, the infection may spread, eroding bone around the tooth. Eventually a blister filled with draining infection may develop on the gums.
What is root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy means the removal of infected or dead pulp from a tooth and the sealing of the canal. First the root canal space is cleaned and reshaped and then the canal is filled to prevent recontamination. In many cases this can be done in one appointment, but sometimes more than one visit is necessary, depending on various factors.
Following root canal therapy, preserving and protecting the structure of the tooth is crucial. The tooth needs to be restored to seal off the canal space and protect against fracture during chewing. For a broken or decayed tooth, a post, core buildup, and a crown may be our recommendation. In minimally affected front teeth, only a filling to seal the root canal opening may be needed.
How will I feel after treatment?
The intense pain that often precedes root canal therapy will be relieved afterwards. Some continued soreness from pre-existing inflammation may still remain in the area for a few days until it subsides. Over-the-counter pain relievers are helpful in controlling soreness until healing proceeds.
Are there any potential complications?
Some teeth are more challenging to successfully treat than others. A few rare cases have problems root canal therapy can’t cure. An example of such a problem is an undetected crack in a root. In such cases, additional follow-up and treatment may be necessary.
Are there any alternatives to root canal therapy?
The only alternative to root canal therapy is extraction of the infected tooth. Surrounding teeth can then drift or tip into the vacant space, upsetting your bite and altering your smile. Orthodontic treatment and/or an implant or bridge may be needed to restore your smile’s appearance and function after tooth loss. Root canal therapy is generally more cost effective by allowing you to keep your original tooth.
We’re glad to answer your questions about root canals and alternative options. Just give us a call at Stadium Dental Center in Jefferson City, Missouri, or enter your information in our Contact form to the right.