Endodontic therapy, or a root canal, is done when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp of the tooth becomes damaged. When the nerve or pulp is damaged, it breaks down, and bacteria begins to multiply inside the pulp chamber. The bacteria can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. The root canal treatment entails removing the nerve and pulp of the tooth and then cleaning and sealing the inner chamber.
If you have any of these signs, root canal therapy may be necessary:
- Severe toothache pain when you chew or apply pressure
- Ongoing sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- “Darkening” of the tooth
- The nearby gums are swollen or tender
- A pimple on the gums that’s persistent or recurring
Although most people think root canals are a painful procedure, most patients experience very little or no pain or discomfort. A root canal procedure usually takes one to three visits to the office. First, a small hole is drilled on the top of the tooth into the inner chamber. The diseased tissue is removed, the chamber is cleansed and disinfected and the tiny canals are reshaped. The chamber and canals are then filled with elastic material and you’re prescribed medication that helps prevent further infection. Sometimes, the drilled hole will be temporarily filled until a crown is placed to permanently seal it.
After the procedure, you should feel relief from the pain. It’s best to avoid chewing with the tooth to prevent reinfecting the tooth and help prevent the tooth from breaking before it can be fully restored. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, make an appointment right away.