Root Canal

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Root Canal Treatment

Root canals, or endodontic treatment, save millions of teeth every year.

The term often brings with it negative thoughts.  However, the procedure itself is typically very comfortable for the patient.  A root canal treatment is most often necessary when the nerve tissue inside of the tooth is infected. The infection can cause the nerve to die or be on its way to dying.

There are some signs and symptoms that a tooth may need a root canal. Be aware of pain that is more than just a little sensitivity. If a tooth or an area of the mouth is painful for more than 15 seconds or so with hot or cold, this may be a sign of an issue. Radiating pain to the eye, ear or down the neck is a sign that a tooth is in trouble. Sometimes a tooth may feel raised or that the bite has changed. Also, pain with biting down is a possible sign of trouble. A draining infection, almost like a pimple on the gum tissue, can sometimes be seen in the area of an infected tooth

Most often, the nerve becomes infected due to tooth decay. The bacteria from outside the tooth can break though the hard outer portion of the teeth, the enamel, and the softer dentin protecting the nerve.  Once the outside is connected to the inside, the nerve becomes infected.  The bacteria will then travel through the nerve and can cause an infection in the bone called an “abscess.”

Tooth trauma and other tooth defects can also necessitate a root canal. If the infection goes untreated, pain, swelling and the possibility of the infection traveling to distant parts of the body become possible.  Infection from the mouth and the teeth have been shown to cause damage to all parts of the body.  The infection can run down the immune system and ultimately, in rare circumstances, lead to death if not treated.

The procedure is often completed in one or two visits. An anesthetic is utilized to ensure patient comfort. The tooth nerve is accessed with a dental handpiece or drill and specific instruments are used to clean and shape the nerve or root canal. All of the infection and tissue is removed and the canal is filled with a medication called gutta percha.

A tooth with a root canal most often needs a crown in order to protect it. Once this is complete, the tooth should be kept in place for the life of the patient barring any other issues. Contact Northern Westchester Dental Care if you think you need a root canal or have tooth pain.