Contrary to popular belief, root canal treatments are not painful! Thanks to modern dental technology and procedures, most patients undergoing a root canal treatment with us find the entire experience no more painful than having a filling placed! And the benefits to getting a root canal when one is needed far outweigh the slight discomfort. Root canal, or endodontic, therapy can save your natural tooth, which is always the ideal case. Endodontic therapy also has a very high success rate, and with good care many treated teeth can last a lifetime.
When is Root Canal Therapy Needed?
Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the tooth, becomes infected or damaged. When the pulp is damaged, it begins to break down and bacteria multiplies within the pulp chamber, eventually causing an infection or abscessed tooth. There are many possible causes of damaged tooth pulp, including: an untreated crack or chip in the tooth, deep decay, repeated dental procedures, large fillings, or trauma to the mouth or face.
Signs and Symptoms
Although your dentist will determine whether or not endodontic treatment is necessary to save your tooth via examination and x-rays, there are some common signs and symptoms to indicate when root canal therapy could be needed:
-Tooth pain upon chewing or application of pressure
-Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold
-Discoloration of tooth
-Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums, lymph nodes
-Persistent or recurring pimples on the gums
However, it is important to know that sometimes there are no symptoms, yet a tooth can still be infected or damaged. An infected tooth must be treated as soon as possible, since infection in a single tooth can spread to other teeth, the surrounding gums and even into the bone, face, neck or head, causing further serious health complications.
We will first examine the patient’s x-rays to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding area. Then, he will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area to ensure that the patient feels relaxed and comfortable throughout the entire procedure. Using specialized instruments, Dr. Kim makes an opening in the crown of the tooth and carefully cleans and disinfects the dental pulp from the pulp chambers and root canals, and shapes the space for filling. After space is thoroughly cleaned and shaped, a biocompatible filler material (usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha) is placed inside the tooth to seal and protect it. Often, a dental restoration such as a crown will also be placed in order to strengthen and fully restore the tooth’s function.