When the blood or nerve supply of a tooth (often known as the ‘pulp’) becomes damaged through injury, infection, or decay, it can cause the nerve of the tooth to die. Years ago this would have meant that the tooth would have to be removed entirely before the whole area became infected. However, thanks to root canal treatment, it is now possible to save teeth that are at risk from the damaged pulp.
There are many clinical reasons for needing root canal treatment, but there are also countless practical reasons why saving the natural tooth is a wise choice. Endodontic treatment helps you keep your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love, and limit the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.
The main goal of root canal treatment is to remove all of the infection from the root canal in order to save the original tooth.
Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits. We will use a numbing agent and Nitrous Oxide so you do not feel any pain. Then we remove the decayed part of the tooth and clean out the infected area. A temporary filling will be put in at this time and the root canal will be given some time to heal.
Dr. Puerto may also suggest giving the affected tooth a crown. This is because teeth that have received root canal treatment become weaker and more brittle, so a crown will provide extra resilience against fractures and chips.
Infections spread quickly. This is particularly true in our mouths which, by being moist and warm, are a perfect breeding ground for the spread of bacteria. An infection that starts in the pulp can quickly spread through the entire root canal system and if left untreated, could grow to form an abscess. If this happens, bacteria-filled pus will collect under the gums, causing them to swell and become hot and potentially extremely painful. At this point, your dentist will need to prescribe you a course of oral antibiotics and it may be necessary to remove the tooth altogether.
After your root canal treatment, your mouth may be sore for a few days. During this time try to limit your diet to soft foods that require little chewing.
Once your root canal treatment is complete you will be able to look after your tooth by following a comprehensive oral healthcare plan that includes twice-daily brushing, daily flossing, and the use of mouthwash.
If you would like more information or to arrange an appointment for an assessment of your oral health, please do not hesitate to get in touch!