A toothache can be an uncomfortable annoyance or a pulsating, throbbing menace. For some people, the symptoms are very subtle making it difficult to know a root canal is needed until a visit to your dentist makes that determination.
A root canal is a process in which the nerve and pulp contained in the root of the tooth are removed. A tooth can have one to four canals within the roots of the tooth and each one contains the pulp and nerve that will be removed during the endodontic procedure. At the completion of a root canal, the area is completely cleansed and filled with an infection fighting material to aid in the healing process. The opening is then sealed to prevent further damage or infection, often with a dental crown.
The primary reason for a root canal is to save a tooth that is either severely decayed or infected, but enough of the tooth is salvageable to undergo the process. Once a tooth has matured and erupted through gum tissue, the nerve inside the root of the tooth does not serve any needed specific purpose except to detect hot or cold. So removing the nerve does not impact the value of saving the tooth.
When a tooth gets to a point where a root canal is recommended, it is usually because there is infection present or there is a crack or break in the tooth that is allowing food, beverages or air to reach the nerve causing a zinging sensation.
Before starting a root canal, the dentist will prepare the area by sealing off the tooth with a rubber dam. This is to keep the area dry during the procedure and to prevent any fluids used during the procedure from being swallowed.
Generally the patient is given an anesthetic to “freeze” the area. Depending on which tooth and how many canals are involved, a root canal can be a quick procedure or can take an hour or longer. Keeping the patient comfortable and calm during the procedure allows the dentist to work as quickly as possible.
The dentist wants to make sure all canals are treated because leaving one canal of the tooth untreated can result in root canal failure and the need to retreat.
Root canal therapy allows a patient to keep a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted, so although no one wants to experience a root canal, the value of this treatment to save a tooth is priceless.
If you are in need of a root canal in the Long Island area, please contact the office of Dr. Richard Sousa at 516-484-6600.