If you have a tooth whose internal structures are damaged, you may benefit from root canal therapy. Also called endodontics, root canal treatment can restore your tooth to its state of health by treating the damaged part of your tooth.
You may experience symptoms ranging from occasional sensitivity to hot and cold foods, to constant throbbing or a dull ache, to pain on chewing.
The extent of damage can be assessed by a comprehensive dental examination. Your dentist takes a dental history, examines your teeth and gums, and x-rays your teeth to examine the underlying roots and bone. After your history is taken, your dentist will examine your teeth – looking for cavities, assessing the condition of any fillings you already have, check to see if your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold, check for loose teeth, tap on your teeth to check for pain, and evaluate the condition of your gums. X-rays allow your dentist to see the inside of your teeth and the surrounding bone. With an x-ray, your dentist can detect any unhealthy changes in your teeth or bone, irrespective of whether they are causing any symptoms or not.
Root Canal Therapy
The goal of root canal therapy is to improve the health of your damaged tooth. During treatment, the pulp is removed from your root canals through a small opening in the crown. Then the canals are cleaned and disinfected. The adjoining diagram shows an instrument being used to clean the canal. Treatment may take one or more visits. The tooth is first numbed. An opening is made in your tooth and any existing fillings or decay is removed. Then your dentist removes unhealthy pulp with tiny, flexible files. Using delicate, up-and-down motions, your dentist gently cleans and smoothes your canals to disinfect them and prepares them for filling.
The canals are then sealed with an inert material that occupies the space vacated by the removal of the pulp.
After the inside of your tooth has been treated, the outside will be restored to protect your tooth’s underlying structures and to bring the tooth back into function. Your dentist will usually cover the tooth with a ceramic or metal crown. After root canal therapy, your tooth continues to be nourished by the surrounding gums and bone.
After root canal therapy your tooth should function and feel like your other teeth. Take care of your treated tooth the same way you would your other teeth. Brush after every meal, and floss before going to bed. Also, have regular dental checkups, cleanings, and any other dental work you may need, so that your teeth last as long as you do!