Root canal therapy (commonly referred to as a root canal), sometimes called endodontic treatment, is a procedure in which your dentist or endodontist (root canal specialist) removes infected or abscessed tissue inside your tooth (the nerve). There are a number of different signs that you might need root canal therapy, and if you do, we will utilize procedures that are incredibly effective and safe. You might not know if you need treatment - that’s okay - we’re going to take a look at the signs that show you that you may have a root canal infection, the causes of infection, and how the endodontic treatment is performed.
What Is A Root Canal Therapy?
To understand a root canal treatment, it’s important to understand a bit about the anatomy of your tooth. The part of the tooth most people see is made up of an extremely hard substance called enamel. Below the enamel, there’s another layer of tissue called dentin. Below that there’s another layer of tissue called pulp. Pulp is the softest tissue in your tooth; it contains blood vessels, nerves, and other cells. Another important piece of anatomy to understand is the root - anything below your gum line is considered to be the root of your tooth. They’re called roots because they root your teeth to the bones of your face.
The root canal is the part of your tooth’s root that contains all of the pulp. When this dental pulp becomes infected or inflamed, it must be removed in order to preserve the tooth. The process is relatively simple: we go into the tooth, widen the canal, remove the damaged dental pulp, then fill and seal the canal and tooth.
What Causes Root Canal Infections?
At any given time, your mouth is full of bacteria, some helpful, some harmful. The harmful bacteria can cause the enamel of your tooth to decay - that’s what causes cavities. Normally, these bacteria can’t access tooth pulp, but if the tooth is damaged, either through cavities or an accident, the pulp can become exposed. When this happens, bacteria can travel into the pulp and cause an infection.
What Are The Signs Of Canal Infection?
There are a number of symptoms that might lead you or your dentist to believe you need a root canal treatment. One of the most common symptoms is serious pain when biting or chewing. Persistent toothache is another sign. You may also experience severe sensitivity to hot and cold, a sensitivity that can even linger after you’ve swallowed. Your gums may become tender and if the infection grows very severe, your gums may even begin to blacken.
The easiest way to know if you need a root canal treatment is to book regular appointments with your endodontist. Dental x-rays are often performed before exams if there’s reason to suspect oral health issues; these x-rays will show a root canal infection if it exists.
How Is The Treatment Performed?
There are patients who are anxious about root canal treatments; that’s in part because, back in the day, we didn’t have the technology we have today to make the treatment comfortable. Should you have any anxiety, please talk to our dentists or receptionists before your appointment; we can help.
The treatment is quite straightforward; first, you’ll receive an anesthetic in order to stop any discomfort. Then, the endodontist will create an opening in your tooth in order to access the root. The damaged tissue will be removed, leaving only healthy tissue behind. From there, the dentist will seal off the widened canal, then seal the opening they made in your tooth. In many cases, you may need a crown placed on your tooth. For some serious infections, or difficult to access roots, we may refer you to an endodontist, a specialist who deals with complicated root canal treatments (among other things).
Should you have any questions at all about root canal treatments, don’t hesitate to give our Winnipeg dentists a call. Experiencing pain doesn’t necessarily mean you need a root canal treatment; you may have a simple cavity. You will always benefit from a thorough teeth cleaning. Get in touch with our dental clinic to book an appointment; we’re here to help you.