What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy (or endodontic therapy) is a procedure in which we use specially made equipment to clean out the portion of a tooth that has been compromised. This process serves to remove all nerve tissue inside a tooth that has either died, or has been compromised due to infection, decay, or trauma.
Do I need a root canal?
As mentioned above, root canal therapy is required when a portion of a tooth has been compromised due to infection, decay, or trauma. How do you know if your tooth has any of these symptoms? Check out the following list of common symptoms that may indicate a need for root canal treatment:
Disclaimer: It is impossible to properly diagnose the state of your tooth without an x-ray and examination of that tooth. Please contact us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, and we would be happy to schedule an appointment for you.
1. “I am experiencing severe spontaneous tooth pain”
Spontaneous pain can signify nerve damage in a tooth. Nerve damage can occur if the tooth has been traumatized or cracked; or if the tooth decay has spread to a significant portion of the tooth. In the case of a tooth infection, it is common that the spontaneous pain will flare up when lying in bed at night.
2. “My tooth is very sensitive to heat/cold”
Temperature sensitivity does not always signify nerve damage. These symptoms can be found in a tooth that has a fracture line or has recently had a filling or crown. However, cold and heat sensitive teeth that progressively worsen, or are severe, can often signify nerve damage. As with all of these symptoms, we recommend getting your tooth checked out immediately since they can indicate an underlying infection.
3. “I have a bump on my gums beside my tooth”
When a tooth becomes infected, sometimes a small bump may appear on your gums next to the tooth. Most times, but not always, this sign will be accompanied by pain and/or a bad taste in your mouth. A tooth infection is a serious issue and should be taken care of right away. Left untreated, the infection could spread to the other surrounding teeth and/or cause other major health problems.
4. “I have a toothache and a fever”
A toothache accompanied by a fever can often signify a tooth infection. As already mentioned, an infection can cause serious health risks if not treated immediately. Call our office right away if you begin to have these symptoms together.
5. “My tooth has a large cavity (decay)”
If you have a tooth that has a large amount of decay (also called a cavity), it will require the removal of all decay and a filing. Otherwise, the tooth could be subject to nerve damage and will need root canal therapy. Decay in a tooth will continue to spread if it is not properly disposed of and filled. If the decay spreads into the nerve of the tooth, that tooth can no longer be restored by a filling alone.
In the case that you have an infected tooth, it is possible, for safety reasons, we will not be able to start your root canal therapy until the infection has been reduced. In this event, we will prescribe you an antibiotic to take prior to receiving root canal therapy. In some cases, even with a tooth infection, we can begin the process of a root canal immediately.
If Dr. Eichhorn has approved your tooth for treatment, we will make a small hole in the top of your tooth, in order to access the tooth’s nerve. Once the nerve has been accessed, he will use small files to clean out the damaged nerve tissue. The hole in your tooth will then be temporarily sealed off. We require you to remain on an antibiotic until we finish the root canal treatment. If you were experiencing pain in this tooth prior to starting the treatment, the antibiotics will eliminate the pain associated with the infection within 24 hours of starting the antibiotics.
Within the following week after your initial treatment, we will schedule a secondary appointment to finish the treatment. During the second visit, a permanent filling will be applied on top of the tooth to prevent reinfection.
Note: teeth that have undergone root canal therapy will require a dental crown to fully restore the tooth and prevent breaking.