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Root canal therapy is treatment used to repair and save a tooth that has been infected due to a deep cavity or a deep crack. The treatment involves removing the pulp and the nerves of the tooth, and cleaning the infected area. A tooth's pulp and nerve is not important to a tooth's health and function after the tooth has fully emerged from the gums. If the treatment is not performed, pus builds up at the root tip and the infection of the pulp can spread to the surrounding bone. This results in pain and swelling, and your tooth would likely have to be removed.
What are the signs that a root canal is needed?
- Severe tooth pain while chewing
- Your tooth pain wakes you up at night
- Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time.
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth
What does the treatment involve?
First, an opening is made into the pulp chamber through the crown of the tooth. Once the pulp is removed, the root canal is thoroughly cleaned. If the dentist decides to complete the root canal therapy in multiple visits, a temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth. When you return, the dentist will remove the temporary filling, re-clean the root canal and pulp chamber, and place a permanent filling and / or crown over the tooth.
Root canal therapy has a high rate of success and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime. Additionally, the crown or filling placed the completion of the procedure makes it hard to notice by others that you had the treatment.