Root canals are one type of endodontic treatment that our dentists at Harper Dental use to treat infections inside your teeth and make them healthy again.
The hardest substance in your body is enamel, the calcified substance that covers the outer layer of each tooth. Enamel shields your teeth from decay and erosion and acts as a protective barrier for the sensitive inner layers of your teeth. These layers include hard tissue (dentin and cementum) and soft tissue (pulp).
The pulp contains living blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Tooth pulp plays a vital role in the formation of dentin, the hard tissue that sits beneath the enamel layer. The blood vessels are responsible for keeping the teeth moisturized and nourished, which is crucial as this prevents brittleness in teeth. The nerves play a sensory role and help detect differences in temperature and pressure around the tooth.
Why You May Need a Root Canal
If you have tooth decay, damage, or disease that has led to the exposure and subsequent infection of the tooth pulp, you may require a root canal. Symptoms and signs that this has occurred include severe teeth pain when eating and lingering sensitivity to hot or cold stimuli.
As the nerves and blood vessels start to die, your tooth and the surrounding gum area may begin to darken. You may also find abscesses (gumboil) developing around the gumline of the infected tooth.
Once tooth pulp tissue is infected, the integrity of a tooth is compromised. Our dentists recommend root canal treatments to save your natural tooth, because no replacement can ever look, feel or work as well as your natural teeth.
What to Expect During a Root Canal
A root canal is relatively painless. Depending on the condition of your tooth, the procedure is doable over one or two appointments. Our dentists begin with a full or partial mouth x-ray. X-rays help determine the extent of the infection and help when reconstructing the tooth after the root canal treatment.
We'll numb the tooth being worked on with a local anesthetic to ensure no pain during the procedure. A sheet of rubber (rubber dam) then goes over the damaged tooth. The dam keeps the tooth dry during the process and also prevents any loose materials from falling back into the throat.
Using a small drill, our dentists create a hole in the tooth to access and remove all damaged or infected nerve and pulp tissue. The vacuum that remains is filled with a rubber compound, and a filling is used to seal the hole. Most root canal teeth require a crown. Crowns go in after the roots have healed and we've confirmed that all infection is gone. Healing may take up to a week.
A root canal treated tooth can last a long time if you observe proper oral hygiene and visit us for regular checkups and cleanings. For more information on root canals or to book an appointment, call Harper Dental at (479) 431-0280. We look forward to hearing from you.