Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is a primary way that dentists can help get patients out of pain and assist the body in ridding itself of harmful infections. Although patients are often concerned when they find out that they need this procedure, modern anesthetics and other improvements have made root canal therapy a routine, relatively easy experience. Dr. Heaton and Dr. Casillas are able to perform the procedure with minimal discomfort, and get you out of pain fast!
Why might I need a root canal?
To understand the answer to this question, you need to know just a bit of the basic anatomy of the tooth. A tooth is composed of several distinct layers, each of which fulfills different roles. The ‘body’ of the tooth is made of a hard but living tissue called dentin, which is covered above the gumline by a very hard, white mineral called enamel. Inside the dentin there is a space which contains the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is a soft tissue which includes the blood vessels and nerves that keep the tooth alive and provide the ability to sense when something is wrong via the sensation of pain. The space the pulp occupies is the pulp chamber and root canals.
A major cause for needing a root canal treatment stems from an untreated cavity. After a cavity spreads through the enamel and dentin, bacteria are able to infect the pulp. Eventually the pulp dies, and the rest of the tooth with it. The infection often continues to spread, leading to the formation of a pocket of pus called an abscess within the jawbone around the tip of the root where the vessels and nerves once exited the tooth. This process is typically very painful, erodes healthy bone, has many other negative effects, and needs treatment in order to resolve. If you are experiencing dental pain, the doctors at Smiles of Chandler may recommend root canal therapy as the best way to alleviate your pain and return your mouth to a healthy state.
How do I know that I should receive root canal therapy?
The issues that lead to needing a root canal are diagnosed using several methods and tools. The dentist will often ask questions about your discomfort and what makes it worse. X-ray images may indicate the presence of an abscess near the tip of the root(s) of the infected tooth or other markers indicating the need for root canal therapy. The dentist will also perform other tests to determine whether the pulp is alive and whether the surrounding tissues are irritated.
Have you been told that you need a root canal?
If you have been told that you need root canal therapy and would like a second opinion, please see us for a free consult. The doctors at Smiles of Chandler would love to answer whatever questions you have.
What does the procedure entail?
Root canal therapy is simply removing the pulp from the tooth and replacing it with a rubbery material known as gutta percha, ridding the body of the source of the infection, while allowing you to keep the tooth.
First, the dentist will administer a numbing agent to minimize any discomfort throughout the procedure. Then he will create a small access hole in the tooth through which he will remove the pulp, disinfect the tooth, and fill the canals with gutta percha. The hole will then be restored with white filling material. Since dead teeth are more brittle, the teeth in the back of the mouth that take most of the chewing forces will often need a crown placed to provide support and help you to keep the tooth for years to come.
Are there alternatives to a root canal?
If it is determined that you need a root canal, typically the only other option is to have the tooth extracted. We recommend that you keep your natural teeth for as long as possible. Once a tooth is removed, teeth in the vicinity move out of their ideal positions, the bone of the jaw begins to atrophy, and there is a significant loss of function and esthetics. Even though there is less expense up front to have an extraction, the extraction will cost more, often much more, in the long run. This is because a bridge or implant will need to take the extracted tooth’s place, and orthodontics may be required to open the space for the bridge or implant if these procedures are not performed immediately following the extraction.
If you are experiencing dental pain and are wondering if you need a root canal, or have any other questions, please call us and schedule an appointment with the doctors at Smiles of Chandler. We will be happy to answer your questions, determine if there is a need for root canal therapy or any other treatment, and help you to get out of pain as soon as possible.
Concerned about dental pain?
If you are experiencing tooth pain, we encourage you to contact our office today to learn how we can help you find relief quickly. But remember – dental pain is the last sign something is wrong. A dental problem takes time to develop, and is usually symptom-less until it is too late.
If you are pain and symptom free, please visit us for a check-up so that we can help you maintain optimal level of oral health and help identify developing oral health issues, to avoid treatments like root canal therapy and other procedures in the future. We look forward to seeing you soon.