Root canal therapy is a very common dental procedure. According to recent statistics in the United States alone, almost 41,000 root canals get performed every day, with close to 15 million done each year. Because it has a high success rate, a root canal procedure is considered one of the most effective methods of saving and retaining a tooth that has been severely compromised by dental decay or injury.
Your teeth are much more than just the hard outer biting surfaces and the roots. Inside of each one is a central chamber that contains connective tissue, a nerve supply, and blood vessels. Collectively these core tissues, known as the dental pulp, help your tooth to grow and mature before it emerges into the mouth. Once your tooth is in place, the dental pulp provides nourishment, keeps the tooth vital, and alerts you of problems. Having sensitivity to various stimuli like biting down and eating or drinking hot or cold items is a warning from the nerves inside your tooth that dental decay is present, dental trauma has occurred, or infection is brewing. The degree of pain that you experience depends on the extent of the damage and nerve involvement.
When a tooth needs a root canal, it is because the dental pulp has become irreversibly damaged or has died. However, if enough intact tooth structure remains, and there is good bone support around the compromised tooth, you do not need to have the tooth extracted. A fully developed tooth does not require the dental pulp to remain functional. You can preserve your natural tooth by having your dentist perform a root canal on the tooth.
It is essential that when a root canal is recommended, you begin care promptly. Delaying the procedure increases the risk of more widespread symptoms developing. If left untreated, a dental infection can develop or worsen with potentially severe consequences to your overall health.
With the modern dental instruments and advanced techniques available today, having a non-surgical root canal procedure is often as comfortable as getting a routine dental filling. While some root canals can be completed in one visit, others may involve 2 or 3 appointments. How long it takes depends on factors such as the number of canals in a tooth, their anatomy, and whether an active infection is present. If it is determined that the tooth is not a candidate for a root canal procedure, or if complications develop during or after care that have an impact on the prognosis of your tooth, our dentist will inform you.
During a root canal procedure, our dentist will remove the diseased dental pulp, clean the internal portion of your tooth, and then fill all the prepared canals with a biocompatible filling material. Root canal therapy is typically performed under local anesthesia, but additional options in dental sedation are available to reduce anxiety associated with dental procedures.
Once your root canal therapy is completed, and the tooth is symptom-free, we most often recommend placing a permanent restoration like a crown on the tooth. This restoration will protect the tooth and rebuild its natural form and function.
With proper maintenance and care, a tooth that has been treated with root canal treatment can last a lifetime.