Root Canal Therapy
Treat an unhealthy tooth nerve in order to maintain the tooth.
- Tooth that has decayed or fractured deep enough to contact the nerve
- Worsening pain from contact with hot or cold liquids
- Pain when biting down or pushing on tooth
- Pain that is constant and throbbing
- Swollen gum area, side of face, or bad taste in mouth
- Pain that wakes one up at night
Inside each tooth is a canal(s) that contains the nerves and blood supply for the tooth. When the nerve becomes infected due to decay or injury, it must be removed from the canals of each root. Once the infected nerve is removed, the canals are filled with a rubber-based material to seal it.
All posterior teeth and some anterior teeth that have had root canal therapy must be protected with a tooth-like artificial covering known as a crown (see crown section.) This is true because teeth that have had root canal therapy are more susceptible to fracture and therefore must be protected.
Root canal therapy is an excellent way to save a tooth that would otherwise die and need to be removed. Over 90% of root canals are successful and enable the patient to keep their tooth indefinitely.
If a tooth is sick, there are no disadvantages to root canal therapy. On rare occasions, however, root canal therapy may need to be redone to ensure that all of the infection has been removed.
The only real alternative is to extract the tooth. However, this typically will require a bridge or dental implant to fill the empty space. These solutions will ultimately cost more than the root canal therapy and will usually not attain the results possible by restoring the natural tooth.