The phrase “root canal therapy” has unfortunate connotations in our culture. The very idea of root canal treatment invokes visions of pain that many patients feel they should avoid. Root canal therapy, however, is one of the most common procedures in the United States, and necessary to prevent more serious tooth problems in the future.
At Sherman Oaks Dental, we will thoroughly inspect your mouth, looking out for signs of an infected or inflamed pulp.
At the core of all teeth is something called the “pulp.” The pulp is a mass of soft tissue, including blood vessels, nerves, and other cells. The purpose of the pulp is to provide sensation in the teeth (so that you know how hard you’re chewing on something) and to supply the crown with nutrients as it forms in the jaw.
However, if a tooth becomes infected or there is a crack or decay, bacteria can infiltrate the pulp and cause inflammation. This inflammation is painful and leads to shooting pains in the lower jaw, which, if left untreated, can become debilitating.
Root canal treatment is a dental procedure where a dentist removes the top layer of a tooth (called the crown) to expose the pulp below. The pulp is then extracted and the voided area enlarged and filled with a special substance which prevents the recurrence of infection. The section of removed crown is then reinserted, concluding the procedure.
Ideally, you should visit your dentist every six months for checkups and advice. Your dentist will be able to tell you if they think that you need root canal treatment. At Sherman Oaks Dental, we will thoroughly inspect your mouth, looking out for signs of an infected or inflamed pulp. If we think that you may need a root canal, we’ll carry out further tests and then, if an infection discovered, recommend that you undergo the procedure.
If you haven’t been to the dentist for a while, however, there are some symptoms that you should look out for that could indicate the need for root canal treatment, sometimes called “endodontic therapy” by dental professionals.
Sometimes the infection in the pulp leaches out into the surrounding gums, causing painful swelling and abscesses.
Tooth discoloration is often a sign that the pulp in a tooth has become inflamed or infected and can no longer do its job. At Sherman Oaks Dental, we can inspect teeth that have lost their color and determine the cause.
Do you experience pain when eating hot or cold food when you didn’t before? If so, it could indicate an infection in your pulp, requiring root canal therapy.
If you experience pain while applying pressure to your teeth, it could be a sign of infection deep within the tooth. You can speak to us about the cause of the pain and the treatment options available to you.
If your pulp is infected, it is vital that you seek out treatment quickly. An infected pulp can lead to a host of complications and cause more damage to your teeth, gums, and surrounding facial tissue.
The purpose of root canal treatment is to try to save your natural teeth. Although modern dental implants are highly effective and robust, most dentists prefer it patients can retain their own teeth for as long as possible. Natural teeth allow patients to eat and drink what they like, without restriction or complications.
Root canal therapy undoes the damage that an infection causes the pulp by removing it and replacing it with a synthetic substance that provides similar structural properties while keeping bacteria out. However, if the infected pulp is not removed, bacteria can infiltrate down into the root of the tooth, move below the gumline, and damage surrounding tissue, including your jawbone.
Losing bone is a serious issue. Not only is it dangerous to have bacteria cruising around your body, but it also makes it much more challenging to restore your teeth when you do finally get treatment. Many modern restoration practices rely on being able to affix posts to bone.
A tooth with an infected pulp also needs to be able to drain to allow the body to carry pus away from the site of injection. This need to remove waste can lead to the formation of a hole in the side of the tooth which, again, can lead to infection in the gum.
The first step in root canal therapy is to take an x-ray and prepare the site. The x-ray gives dentists a clear impression of the extent of the infection and can see whether it is contained in the tooth itself, or whether it’s also spread into the surrounding root and gum.
Before root canal treatment, the Dr. Weyneth uses a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and eliminate pain.
Unfortunately the pulb cannot be rescued so must remove it. Dr. Weyneth removes the top of the crown and then uses special tools to remove any infected pulp in the tooth interior.
Root canals in teeth are usually narrow, making them difficult to clean and fill. Your dentist will slightly widen the root canal so that they can insert the filling agent more effectively. This process may take several sessions and could require more than an hour in the dentist’s chair.
At the next visit, we will apply the root canal filling. The root canal filling replaces any temporary fillings you’ve received during your last visit and seals over the tooth, preventing infection in the future.
Do you need a dental checkup? Do you suspect that you might have an infected or inflamed pulp? Get in touch with us today and book an appointment with one of our friendly and compassionate team members. Dr. Weyneth can tell you whether you need a root canal treatment, ensuring that you can keep your natural, beautiful smile.