A dentist in Philadelphia explains how root canals save your natural tooth
Years ago, teeth with deep infections were extracted. Today, it’s possible to save your natural tooth with root canal therapy from your Philadelphia dentist. At David Spilkia Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we help save many teeth that otherwise would have been removed thanks to the root canal procedure.
Root canal therapy is needed when the inner pulp chamber of the tooth becomes infected. The goal of treatment is to eliminate the infection, save the natural tooth structure, and prevent future problems. Our team uses the most up to date technology to ensure that all root canals are completed with the highest level of care.
The problem with extracting natural teeth
If a tooth is removed and not replaced, it can cause the remaining natural teeth to shift out of place. This can make it difficult to continue proper oral care and lead to future problems such as decay or gum disease. Because a root canal saves the natural tooth, it prevents these problems from occurring. Additionally, root canals are typically less expensive than replacement teeth.
When does a patient need a root canal?
There are several different situations that can cause a tooth to require root canal therapy. The most common is a deep cavity that leads to inflammation and infection. When the infection is left untreated, it can begin to cause the patient deep pain and eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus that can eventually begin to destroy the bone. Other possible reasons for root canals are chips or cracks, multiple fillings in the same tooth, trauma to the tooth, or a faulty crown.
Symptoms of tooth infection
- Pain in the tooth – can be intermittent, spontaneous, or consistent.
- Sensitivity – to hot or cold.
- Difficulty eating – pain when you bite or chew on food.
- Swollen gums – red, inflamed tissue around the infected tooth
- Fever – general sick feeling.
- Abscess – pockets of pus around the infected tooth.
- Swollen jaw or glands
What happens to the tooth without a root canal?
Without treatment, an infection in the root canals can lead to several different complications including:
- Spreading of infection – once the pulp is infected, it can lead to an abscess and loss of the tooth.
- Bone loss – if the bacteria are not removed, the bone can be damaged and begin to deteriorate.
Is it a root canal painful?
This is one of the most common concerns that we receive from patients. The easy answer is root canals are designed to eliminate pain, not cause them. The procedure is done under local anesthetic and will alleviate the pain caused by deep infection. Patients can expect there to be some discomfort caused by the procedure, but this will subside within a few days and can be managed through medication and following the healing procedures.
How root canal therapy works
There are several steps to a successful root canal procedure.
During this first visit, the tooth will be examined, and x-rays are taken to show the extent of the damage and plan out the procedure. Next, the damaged nerve is removed, and the root canals are disinfected to remove any signs of infection and bacteria. A temporary filling material will be placed inside the tooth. All of this is done under local anesthetic. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed, and you will need to wait for the tooth infection to completely heal before the next step.
During this healing time, it’s helpful to avoid biting or chewing with the tooth as much as possible. The tooth may be sensitive in the days following the procedure. Over the counter pain medications can be taken for pain relief.
During this second visit, the temporary filling is removed, and the entire root canal will be filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. A crown is then placed over the tooth to restore functionality and prevent further damage.
Following the placement of the crown, patients can begin using the tooth just like their natural teeth. It’s important to practice good oral care including brushing and flossing to keep the mouth healthy.
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Benefits of root canal therapy
The number one benefit of root canal therapy is saving the natural tooth. With this benefit comes numerous advantages such as:
- Ability to bite, chew, and taste as normal
- Natural looking
- The dental crown is stain-resistant
- Long-lasting restoration