Many,many years ago, our first recognized dentists would remove a diseased or injured tooth as there was no means to restore it and maintain functionality. Today however, it is very common to know someone who has had root canal therapy to save a tooth – perhaps you yourself were a root canal patient at one time! The root canal is the passageway for nerves and blood vessels; since this area is highly sensitive, your dentist may refer you to someone who specializes in endodontics (the treatment of diseases or injuries to the dental pulp) to perform your root canal if they determine you need one.

Reasons for Root Canal Therapy

Between regularly scheduled cleanings and check-ups, the most common reason for a visit to the dentist is pain. If your pulp – or the soft tissue inside the tooth which contains the blood vessels and nerves – becomes infected or inflamed, you will likely need root canal therapy. An infection in the pulp can be caused by a deep cavity, a cracked or chipped tooth, or another injury to the tooth which has allowed bacteria to enter.  If left untreated, an infection in the pulp of one tooth can spread to damage the bone responsible for keeping your tooth in your jaw, and the tooth may need to be removed if it becomes too damaged.

Steps of Root Canal Therapy

If your dentist or endodontist decides that root canal therapy is the right treatment, they will begin by numbing your tooth and the area around it before they create an opening in the crown of the tooth to access the pulp chamber. Once inside, the pulp is removed from the chamber and the canal of each root and then each root is cleaned and disinfected prior to being filled. If your infection is severe, your dentist may place medicine directly in the pulp chamber and root canals to help treat it prior to filling the canals with rubber-like material to seal them. A temporary filling is used until a permanent filling or crown can be used once the infection has cleared and there have been no issues with the procedure.

A properly maintained tooth with a root canal filling can last for many years without pain or issues. However, like any other tooth it can suffer from decay or fracture, so it is important to maintain your regular oral health routine and regular dental visits after root canal therapy. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Zola Makrauer or Dr. Julie Miller at Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts.