When you look at your teeth in the mirror, they look like simple, solid structures. Appearances can be deceiving. The teeth are quite complex, containing several layers below the hard, protective enamel exterior. The inner layer contains hollow canals that travel to the roots of the teeth. It also houses the pulp, the soft tissue that contains blood vessels and nerves. The enamel may be strong, but it can still face damage. When this happens, bacteria can get inside the tooth, causing a serious, painful infection that compromises not only your oral health but your whole-body health as well. At Shenandoah Family Dentistry, we can remove the infection from your tooth, restoring your health, with root canal therapy.
ROOT CANAL THERAPY
An infection inside of your tooth needs to be treated as soon as possible. Root canal therapy is a treatment designed to remove that infection, easing your discomfort and restoring your oral health. With root canal therapy, we can help you avoid the need for a tooth extraction and, soon afterward, replacement. In removing the infection from your tooth, we also remove the infected pulp and the nerves. At the end of your procedure, a dental crown is placed on the treated tooth, helping to provide additional strength and protection.
WHY DO I NEED A ROOT CANAL?
If the teeth are so strong, then how do bacteria get inside in the first place? There are a few ways in which a tooth can become infected. This includes different issues such damage from chips and cracks, tooth decay, even gum disease. No matter how the bacteria enter the tooth, once they are inside, they do not come out. Instead, they quickly multiply, filling the hollow canals and attacking the sensitive pulp inside. The pulp becomes irritated and then inflamed. This can then lead to excruciating pain. Infections do not clear up on their own. Trying to wait it out is dangerous. The longer infections go untreated, the worse your health becomes.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AN INFECTED TOOTH?
There are several different symptoms that can point toward an infected tooth. If you experience any of these, it is essential that you seek treatment immediately. Symptoms include:
• Severe tooth pain.
• You may notice swelling in your face near the affected tooth.
• You may experience pain or sensitivity that lingers long after the irritant is gone.
• Loss of bone mass in the jaw.
• Dental abscesses. An abscess is the most telling sign of an infection. It is a sac that forms around bacteria that have spilled out of the root of the tooth in an attempt to contain them. The longer your infection goes untreated, the larger the abscess grows, causing significant damage as it does.
DIAGNOSING AND TREATING AN INFECTED TOOTH
If you suspect an infection, it is important to make an appointment right away. An infection needs to be diagnosed to be treated. Diagnosing an infection involves a thorough oral exam. We take a close look at your teeth, checking for signs of damage. We also closely examine your gums, looking for signs of infections. We will also take x-rays of your mouth, which will allow us to see the areas under the gums. We can check for damage at the roots, diagnose abscesses and note bone loss. With a complete picture of your mouth, we can make an accurate diagnosis and formulate an effective treatment plan.
If an infection is diagnosed, we will move ahead with root canal therapy. This procedure is done under local anesthetic. Sedation may be provided if you are nervous or anxious. We begin by drilling a small hole at the top of the affected tooth. Next, we use small, specialized tools to remove the pulp of the tooth and the nerves. The canals inside the tooth are shaped, and the entire interior is cleaned and disinfected. Once we have cleaned the inside of the tooth, we fill the space with a material called gutta percha. Finally, the tooth is prepared and capped with a dental crown, which helps to provide the tooth with strength and protect it from new infections.
Root canal therapy is an effective treatment for removing an infection from a tooth and restoring you’re your oral health. If you suspect that you have an infected tooth, do not ignore the symptoms. Call Shenandoah Family Dentistry at (540) 667-8731.