Endodontics refers to the branch of dentistry that focuses on the diseases and injuries of the soft tissues inside of the tooth (the dental pulp). “Endo” means “inside” and “dont” means “tooth”. Endodontists specialize in diagnosing the cause of tooth pain and performing root canal treatments.
The Benefits of a Root Canal Treatment
Tooth preservation is an additional benefit of a root canal treatment. The sooner we identify and treat the infection, the more likely it is that we can save and, ultimately, restore the tooth. If we have to remove an infected tooth, it can lead to additional problems such as tooth migration, which may change the alignment of your bite, and eventually, may require bridgework or dental implants to correct. We want to avoid the extra costs, complications, and potential bone structure loss that come with tooth extraction, if at all possible.
What Causes Root Canal Problems?
A circumstance that warrants a root canal is when the pulp tissue develops an infection or inflammation. The dental pulp that is located inside of the tooth is made up of blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. The heightened sensitivity of the nerve cells could be why patients report severe pain and discomfort with an infected tooth. An infected tooth must be treated and will not go away over time. In fact, if left untreated, the infection could progress into a dental abscess, and may even manifest itself with symptoms that affect other parts of your body.
Infections can be caused by severe, untreated tooth decay that has penetrated into the tissue. Bacteria can also penetrate the dental pulp by means of a chipped or cracked tooth. If the protective enamel is broken at any place, this could allow the bacteria to enter into the inner tissue.
Any type of trauma to the tooth itself can lead to tissue damage and eventual problems down the road. If you feel any type of pain or discomfort after a sports injury or fall, it is crucial to see your dentist as soon as possible so he or she can identify any damage and create a treatment plan.
Finally, some people may inadvertently incur dental pulp damage during another dental procedure. Having an extensive amount of dental work done, such as multiple fillings or restorations on the same tooth, can sometimes cause tissue damage. Sometimes, common procedures like crown placements or orthodontics can cause tissue damage, as well, but this is not typical.
What Types of Symptoms Indicate Root Canal Problems?
Pain is an obvious indicator that something is wrong within the root canal. Pain, pressure, swelling or extreme gum sensitivity should be examined immediately by a professional. Another indicator of dental pulp damage could be pain when chewing, or pain after eating hot or cold foods. If you are experiencing any tooth pain in general that lasts more than a few days, we suggest scheduling an appointment with Dr. Brumbach.
The Process of a Root Canal Treatment
If Dr. Brumbach determines that you will benefit from root canal therapy, you can expect a safe, routine, and effective procedure that can be completed in a single office visit.
To begin, we numb the tooth with a local anesthetic administered via injection. Then, we make a small opening in the tooth to gain access to the pulp chamber and root canals. We remove dead and decaying tissue from inside the narrow canals using tiny tools and a microscope, if needed. Once the canals are emptied of dead tissue, we clean and disinfect the empty chambers. We fill those tiny chambers with biocompatible material, and seal the opening with a cement to prevent bacteria from getting back in.
Sensitivity and tooth tenderness for the next couple of days is normal. To alleviate some of your pain, pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin are recommended. If you find that you’re experiencing severe pain, we may prescribe a stronger medication to relieve your discomfort. We also advise that during your temporary healing period, you avoid hard, crunchy foods and stick to softer foods.
As an additional means of protection, we generally recommend placing a crown, such as a traditional gold crown or a high-end tooth replica, on the treated tooth. If not a crown, then perhaps another means of restoration. Whichever option you decide to go with, the investment will pay off in knowing that you’ve protected your teeth for the long-term.
Call our office today to set up an appointment with Dr. Zach Brumbach and his dental professional team if you suspect you may need a root canal.