Endodontic therapy, more often referred to as a root canal treatment, is a common dental procedure that saves and repairs a badly damaged or infected tooth. This procedure removes infected or injured dental pulp, which is soft tissue in the middle of a tooth including the nerve.
Why a root canal procedure may be necessary
Although teeth appear to be solid, they are actually hollow. Beneath the hard layers of tooth material is dental pulp. It includes the nerve, vascular cells, and other viscous tissues. The pulp is housed in a chamber located in the center of the tooth, with canals extending through the roots to the jawbone.
In a strong, healthy tooth the pulp is well protected by layers of dentin, enamel, and cementum. When a tooth is broken or otherwise seriously damaged, the dental pulp can be injured. Additionally, fractures or deep cavities can give bacteria a passageway to the pulp, resulting in infection.
The most common signs that root canal treatment may be needed include:
- A recurring or persistent pimple on the gum tissue
- Pain, tenderness, or swelling of the surrounding gum tissue
- Overall darkening of the tooth that does not respond to whitening
- High sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages
- Constant or recurrent toothache
- Sensitivity to pressure
If you see a dentist regularly, damage may be detected before these symptoms manifest, giving the opportunity for early treatment.
What to expect
Contrary to the horrible things that you may have heard, the root canal procedure is comfortable and highly successful. The first step is diagnostics. Your dentist will examine the tooth in question and take x-rays as needed to determine the nature and extent of the damage.
The tooth and surrounding area are numbed before work begins, to ensure your comfort. Your dentist will create an opening in the upper part of the tooth just large enough to access and remove the dental pulp. After the root canal has been cleaned and sterilized it is filled and sealed to ensure there is no future infection.
In most cases, a dental crown is recommended to restore the tooth after root canal treatment. This serves a dual purpose, preventing damage to the tooth and restoring your smile. If you think you may need root canal treatment, visit one of our offices in the Greater Toronto areas of Scarborough, Pickering, or North York.
Contact us today.