A tooth comprises two primary parts: the exterior layer that we see and the interior portion where the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues are found. This portion of the tooth features thin channels or canals that contain these living tissues and extend from the central portion of the tooth to the root. When the tissue in these canals becomes infected or diseases, it needs to be removed. Root canal therapy is the procedure that’s used to treat this deep decay and damage so the tooth can be preserved.
Root canal therapy begins in much the same way as a regular dental filling. Any existing restoration is removed, and special instruments are used to access the central portion of the tooth so the damaged portion can be removed. The treated area is carefully cleaned of debris, then a special filling material is applied to help strengthen the tooth and prevent future decay. Once the filling has been applied, the tooth will need to be covered by a crown to provide additional strength and protection and to hide any darkening that can occur once the central portion of the tooth is removed. Root canal therapy is performed using state-of-the-art pain management techniques to eliminate discomfort throughout the procedure.
Generally speaking, it’s always better to save a natural tooth and avoid having it pulled. That’s because a person’s bite balance depends on the curves and contours of the natural teeth, and having a tooth extracted can shift that balance and cause additional problems. Plus, keeping the natural tooth usually is a less costly option than having a bridge, denture or implant, and retaining a natural tooth helps patients feel more confident about their appearance and their overall oral health.
Some patients may feel some soreness near the tooth which will resolve soon afterward. Ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers may be used to reduce any temporary discomfort that does occur.
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