Each tooth consists of several parts. On the outside you’ll find the hard, white outer enamel. Underneath is a substance called dentin. It is similar to bone and makes up the majority of your tooth. On the inside is the sensitive and soft core where the nerve endings, blood vessels and soft tissues are located.
The soft tissues are called the pulp. If the pulp becomes infected, your body will try to push the tooth out of your mouth so it can remove the bacteria. A root canal treatment can be used to remove the infected tissue. It can also strengthen your tooth. Once the infected tissue is removed, the tooth is filled with a rubber-like putty that will sit inside the tooth and keep it strong.
Infected tooth pulp poses a health threat to the entirety of your mouth, teeth and gums. As well as being painful and causing problems with biting and chewing, the infection can lead to an abscess.
An abscess is a build up of your body’s immune fluids at the site of an infection. This buildup is the beginning of the process that pushes your tooth out of your gums. If this is left untreated, it can cause pain, and the infection can spread. The tooth will usually need extraction. A root canal treatment can save the tooth, helping you keep your natural teeth and leaving you free of pain and infection.
Your dentist will conduct a thorough examination to determine the extent of your infection. In some cases, an x-ray may be necessary.
Once you move to your chair, you will receive a local anesthetic to numb the affected area. Your dentist will then gently clean out the pulp of your tooth before filling it with special gum. You will receive a temporary filling to allow your tooth time to heal before the final sealing. We’ll set up a follow-up appointment with you once your tooth has had time to settle. If your dentist is satisfied with the progress of your tooth, the temporary filling will be removed. We’ll replace it with a permanent filling or sometimes a crown to strengthen it.
Most patients feel little to no pain during the root canal procedure. There may be some mild pain after, which can be treated using painkillers recommended by your dentist.