Root Canal Therapy
Regular brushing, flossing and dental visits for cleanings and exams are critical components of maintaining optimal oral health. Being lax in your oral care routine, skipping dental visits, and even ignoring symptoms of a potential issue can quickly lead to consequences that can affect your oral health, and your quality of life. One of these consequences is an infection inside a tooth. Infections in the teeth can be quite painful. They can also be dangerous. When infections in the teeth go untreated, bacteria can enter into the bloodstream, and spread throughout the body. As they do, they can contribute to serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. At A Smiling Heart Dentistry, we can get rid of your infection, and restore your oral health, with a root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
Your teeth are complex structures, with a hard, protective outer layer. They are also the hardest substance in your body, so how does an infection even happen? The teeth may be strong, but they are not indestructible. They may face decay or damage such as cracks or chips. When this happens, bacteria can enter the inner layer of the affected tooth. Once inside, the bacteria make their homes in the canals inside the teeth and begin to multiply. They begin to irritate the pulp, the soft tissue located inside the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. The pulp becomes inflamed and painful.
The bacteria inside your teeth cannot be removed at home, no matter how much you brush and floss. The only way to get rid of an infection is by undergoing a root canal. This procedure eliminates the infection and prevents the need for a tooth extraction. The pulp of the affected tooth is also removed along with the bacteria, and the interior of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected. Finally, the tooth is capped with a dental crown.
Symptoms of Infection
There are a few different symptoms that can point to an infection inside your tooth:
|Severe tooth pain.
|Facial swelling, typically near the same area as the affected tooth.
|Lingering pain or sensitivity, even though the original source of that pain or swelling is gone.
|Bone loss in the jaw.
|A dental abscess. This is the most telling sign of an infection, but it cannot be seen without a dental exam and X-ray. An abscess is the result of the bacteria spilling out of the tooth root into the jaw. The abscess forms to contain the bacteria. The longer the infection goes untreated, the larger the abscess becomes, and the more likely it is to burst.
Diagnosing and Treating an Infected Tooth
Diagnosing your infection requires a thorough oral exam. We begin by looking over the interior of your mouth. We check your teeth for signs of damage and decay. We also take a close look at your gums, looking for inflammation. Your exam will also include X-rays, which will allow us to see the condition of your teeth and jawbone below the gum line. X-rays enable us to see damage below the gum line that cannot be seen on the visible areas of your teeth, as well as detect abscesses. If we find an infection, we then use your images to create a customized treatment plan for your specific needs.
Your root canal procedure begins with a local anesthetic. If necessary, we can also provide you with sedation so that you can relax and remain comfortable throughout your procedure. We drill a small hole at the top of the affected tooth. Using small, specialized tools, we remove the pulp of the tooth and shape the canals inside. The interior is then cleaned and disinfected. The tooth is then filled with a dental material called gutta percha.
To finalize your root canal, and provide optimal support and protection for the treated tooth, we place a dental crown. We take a digital impression of your mouth, which is sent to our in-house dental lab. There, your restoration is designed and milled, and we cement it into place over the tooth. The crown strengthens the tooth and prevents bacterial invasion, and new infections, from occurring.
If you notice any symptoms of an infection, it is important to seek treatment right away. For more information, or to schedule your appointment, call A Smiling Heart Dentistry at (425) 558-9998 today.