A treatment performed to repair and save a severely damaged or infected tooth; a root canal is a procedure in which a dentist or endodontist cleans the canals within a tooth’s root. Root canals are designed to clear an infected tooth of bacteria, prevent reinfection, and save the patient’s natural tooth.
Dental pulp, or the tooth’s soft core, stretches from the visible part of the tooth -- the crown -- to the very tip of a tooth’s root and consists of blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. “When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. Left untreated, bacteria and decaying material can cause a serious infection or a tooth abscess, leading to pulp death, bone loss, and loss of the tooth itself.”
As a result, those with a cracked tooth -- whether from genetics or injury, a deep cavity, or issues stemming from a past filling may require a root canal. And typically, patients will require a root canal, particularly if they experience dental sensitivity to hot and cold sensations.
You may need a root canal if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Although the root canals performed decades ago were usually quite painful, local anesthetics and dental advancements have substantially limited this pain. Today, living with a decayed tooth can be significantly more painful than a root canal itself. And each year, millions of teeth are treated and salvaged via root canal treatment.
A general dentist or an endodontist typically performs root canal treatments. Similar to a routine filling, modern root canals can be completed in an appointment or two. This will depend heavily on a patient’s personal circumstances and the condition of the tooth. Initially, a patient must have dental X-rays to examine the level of damage properly. In some cases, patients may receive a local anesthetic to help manage pain and discomfort. Next, a dentist will put a dental dam, or rubber-like sheet, into place to protect the tooth and keep it clean. Once the decay has been eliminated, a hole is made through the crown to create access to the dental pulp, which is removed using small dental instruments.
To clear up the infection, the pulp chamber and root canals are flushed and cleaned. The root canals may then be enlarged and reshaped to provide better access for filling. Some patients may require medication or antibiotics to rid the infection, mainly if it has spread beyond the tooth. And once entirely cleaned and dried, the empty pulp chamber and root canal are filled using a dental filling, rubber compound, and sealer paste.
This treatment’s final step is to place a crown on the affected tooth to protect it from future damage and restore normal function. Saving a patient’s natural tooth, root canal treatments can restore not only a tooth’s natural appearance but also normal biting force and sensation, efficient chewing, as well as protect surrounding teeth from excessive strain and wear.
Dr. Julie Liberman DDS of Great Neck Dental Care NY performs root canal treatments on patients in the Great Neck area, spanning New Hyde Park, Floral Park, Douglaston, Jericho, Roslyn, etc. Contact us today to book your appointment and learn more about how you can repair or save your damaged tooth with a root canal!
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