When Root Canal Therapy is Needed
The center of your teeth is called the pulp. This soft area contains the nerve, connective tissue, and blood vessels. The root canals travel from inside the pulp chamber down the tooth root and contain the tooth’s nerve.
If the pulp is damaged, it becomes inflamed and can break down, causing bacteria to multiply in the pulp chamber. The bacteria can cause an infection inside the root canals. Left untreated, an infected root canal can cause bone loss and tooth drainage issues. Either of these can lead to serious consequences.
This infection can also progress to an abscess, which is a severely painful pus-filled pocket at the end of the tooth root.
At Grand Lake Dental, Dr. Karl Jobst and his team can take care of your root canal infection. They have the experience, compassion, and gentle hands you want when needing root canal therapy. And if you worry about pain or suffer from fear or anxiety, Dr. Jobst can discuss dental sedation options with you.
What are the symptoms of a root canal infection?
While there can be some significant and severely painful symptoms with a root canal infection, it is important to note that not all patients experience noticeable symptoms. Therefore, it is possible to be in need of root canal therapy even if you have mild symptoms or none at all.
The most common signs and symptoms of a root canal infection include:
- Swelling around the face, head, or neck
- Tooth pain with pressure, such as chewing
- Prolonged hot and cold sensitivity
- Darkening of the tooth
- Tenderness and swelling of the gums
What causes a root canal infection?
The most common cause of a root canal infection is dental decay. This is why it is so important to treat cavities at the earliest possible time. Fillings for small cavities require very little in time and money when compared to root canal therapy. They can also save you from the severe pain of a dental abscess.
When cavities are left untreated, the decay spreads. If the decay gets below the tooth surface, bacteria can get inside the pulp and cause infection. At this point, a filling will not be enough to fix the problem.
Another common cause is a cracked, chipped, or broken tooth that inflames the pulp and allows bacteria to enter. Also, a large filling or repeated dental procedures on a tooth can weaken it and damage the pulp, causing inflammation which allows bacteria to thrive.
In addition, trauma to the face or tooth can cause pulp damage, which inflames the pulp and breaks it down. This increases blood flow to the pulp, which causes pain with chewing and sensitivity to hot and cold.
Once the tooth pulp is infected, the only treatment options are root canal therapy or extraction of the tooth. Root canal therapy allows you to keep your natural tooth, so you do not need a dental bridge or implant.
What is the procedure for root canal therapy?
If you need root canal therapy, it is helpful to understand that it is not a horrible, painful procedure. Dr. Jobst will numb the affected area before beginning, so you should not experience pain. If you have anxiety or fear, however, he can discuss sedation options with you.
It is also helpful to understand that once a tooth has developed, the pulp is no longer needed. The only purpose the pulp serves after a tooth has emerged is to cause you pain when it becomes inflamed or infected. Once the pulp is removed, the tooth will no longer cause you pain.
The first step in root canal therapy is a thorough examination, including digital x-rays. The x-rays allow Dr. Jobst to determine if the infection has spread to the surrounding bone and to visualize the shape of the root canals.
After numbing the affected area, Dr. Jobst will place a rubber dam to protect the tooth from saliva and keep it clean. He will then drill an access hole into the tooth. Next, he will use tiny instruments to clean out the pulp, debris, and infected materials.
Once Dr. Jobst is certain the insides of the root canals are completely clean, he will gently reshape them. Then, he will fill them with a rubber compound and sealer paste called gutta-percha to prevent recontamination, protect the inside of the tooth, and seal the canals. To finish it off, he will place a filling to close the access hole.
You will now need a dental crown to restore the tooth to full function and protect it from further damage. Therefore, we will take a dental impression for fabrication of the crown. Dr. Jobst will place a temporary crown until your customized crown is ready.
When Grand Lake Dental receives your permanent crown, you will return to the office so Dr. Jobst can cement it in place.
After your permanent restoration is placed, your new tooth will function as well, if not better, than your natural teeth.
If You Need Root Canal Therapy
If you are experiencing dental pain, sensitivity, or have swelling of the face, neck, or gums, do not delay a professional dental examination. Ignoring symptoms only makes things worse. Call Grand Lake Dental at (918) 787-5800 today. One of our friendly team members would love to answer any questions you have or schedule you for an appointment.