If the nerve within your tooth becomes infected, successful root canal treatment can keep you from losing the tooth while treating the infection before it causes health complications.
Properly performed, a root canal is no more uncomfortable than having a cavity filled, though the procedure is more complex. It is the removal of infected or dead pulp (the inner nerves and blood vessels) from inside the tooth, and the filling and sealing of the resulting space.
An infected (abscessed) tooth causes discomfort in the form of swelling and toothache. It can also cause severe health complications, because the bacteria from the infection can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body.
One way to treat the infection is to remove the tooth and disinfect the area. However, tooth loss creates a gap between surrounding teeth that often necessitates a dental implant or bridge. It is preferable to save the tooth if possible through root canal (endodontic) treatment.
The dentist begins by applying local anesthesia and isolating the area with a rubber dam. Then they drill an opening in the tooth to access the infected pulp, and remove it and clean the area with specialized tools. The dentist fills the root space with a filling material. Finally the dentist must seal the surface of the tooth with a crown to prevent further infection and restore the function and appearance of the tooth.
The root canal treatment is typically performed in one visit. A second visit may be required to complete the crown restoration.
With the appropriate care, your teeth that have had endodontic treatment will last as long as other natural teeth. Yet, a tooth that has received treatment may fail to heal or pain may continue to exist. Sometimes, the pain may occur months or years after treatment. If so, Endodontic Retreatment may be needed.
When retreating a tooth, the root canal filling material is taken out, and the canal is re-cleaned, reshaped and refilled.
In some cases, new problems can influence a tooth that was successfully treated:
Once retreatment has been selected as a solution to your problem, the doctors will reopen your tooth to gain access to the root canal filling material. This restorative material will be removed to enable access to the root canal. The doctors will now clean your canals and carefully examine the inside of the problematic tooth. Once cleaned, the doctors will fill and seal the canals and place a filling or build up restoration in the tooth.
At this point, you will need to return to your dentist as soon as possible in order to have a new crown or restoration placed on the tooth to restore full functionality.