Root canal therapy is to the abscessed tooth as bypass surgery is to the human heart. Many diseases, such as cardiovascular problems or diabetes, start quietly with unnoticeable symptoms. These diseases are usually discovered by accident or when having a routine examination or after advancing to the point where symptoms begin to show. Such is the case of an infected tooth. When tooth decay extends into the nerve center of a tooth, there are only two possible choices available. The tooth may need to be extracted or if there is enough healthy tooth structure left, root canal therapy may be able to save it.
How Root Canal Therapy Works
The external part of the tooth is the hardest substance in the human body. Tooth enamel is harder than bone; however, when harmful bacteria accumulate and begin to produce acidic toxins, a cavity begins to form. If the cavity is discovered before it reaches the pulp, or nerve center of the tooth, cleaning out the decay and filling the tooth is enough. When the decay is allowed to continue, it attacks the nerves and blood vessels, essentially killing the tooth while causing severe pain. Severe infections where an abscess has developed often must be treated with antibiotics.
If enough healthy tooth structure is left, the tooth can be saved with root canal therapy. The dentist cleans out all the decay in the tooth and the necrotic tissue in the canals of the tooth roots with special instruments. After the root canals are thoroughly cleaned out, they are sanitized and packed with a special material that prevents bacteria from entering again. The tooth is then filled with an appropriate filling material.
Protecting a Tooth After Root Canal Therapy
Since the tooth will no longer receive nourishment because the blood vessels and nerves have been removed, it may eventually become brittle and vulnerable to breaking or cracking. For this reason, dentists often recommend that a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy be crowned. A crown, or cap as it is often called, covers the entire part of the tooth above the gum line. Placing a crown on such a tooth provides protection, strength and stability.
Prevention is the best way to protect your teeth from developing problems. When a problem with decay or damage does arise and impacts a tooth, root canal therapy may be the solution to avoiding extraction. Restore Dental provides preventive care and other dental services including root canal therapy to help keep your oral health at its best.