What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a common dental procedure performed to save a tooth that may otherwise need to be extracted. In order to understand the root canal procedure, it helps to review the anatomy of the tooth. Teeth have several layers. The outer surface of the tooth is composed of a hard enamel layer. Supporting this layer is an inner dentin layer, which has at its center a soft tissue referred to as pulp.
The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and other supporting tissues that are primarily responsible for forming the hard outer layers of the tooth during development. After development of the tooth, the pulp is no longer necessary for function of the tooth.
Endodontic treatment becomes necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or the canals containing the pulp become infected. The most common reasons for inflammation or infection inside the tooth are deep decay, trauma, cracks and fractures, or multiple/repeated dental procedures. Symptoms associated with endodontic inflammation or infection include an abnormal or prolonged sensitivity to cold or hot, biting sensitivity, tenderness deep in the bone, spontaneous throbbing pain, discoloration of the tooth, or swelling. Sometimes there are no symptoms and the results of the inflammation or infection are visualized on diagnostic xrays. Left untreated, inflammation of the pulp or infection of the canals can lead to pain, abscess and eventual loss of the tooth. If you experience any of these symptoms, your dentist will likely recommend root canal treatment to save your tooth, relieve pain and eliminate infection.
Consultation and Diagnosis
Oral pain such as toothaches or cracked/fractured teeth can often be difficult to pinpoint. Because of the vast network of nerves in the mouth, the pain of a damaged or diseased tooth often is felt in another tooth and/or in the head, neck or ear. An Endodontist is a specialist in diagnosing this type of pain. Once the offending tooth is identified, we will discuss treatment options with you to eliminate the pain.