In South Austin, at Austin Artistic Dental, we treat teeth regularly with root canal therapy. Though we do everything in our power to avoid them for our patients. And only do them when absolutely necessary. Root canal therapy is treatment used to repair and save a tooth that has been infected due to a deep cavity or a cracked tooth. The treatment involves removing the dying pulp and the nerves of the tooth, and cleaning the infected area. If the treatment is not performed, pus builds up at the root tip and the infection of the pulp can spread to the surrounding bone. The results in pain and swelling, If root canal therapy is not done, the only alternative is to remove/extract the tooth.
What are the signs that a root canal is needed?
Severe tooth pain while chewing
Your tooth pain wakes you up at night
Teeth that are highly sensitive to hot or cold, with the sensitivity lingering for some time.
Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
Swollen gums in the area of the infected tooth
What does the treatment involve?
First the tooth is anesthetized and made VERY NUMB. Then an opening is made into the pulp chamber through the crown of the tooth. Once the pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth, the root canal is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The roots are not removed!! Just the dying nerve inside the root! If the dentist decides to complete the root canal therapy in multiple visits, a temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth. When you return, the dentist will remove the temporary filling, re-clean the root canal and fill in and seal the pulp chamber, the space where the nerve tissue used to be.
Root canal therapy has a high rate of success and many teeth undergoing the procedure can be saved to last a lifetime. After the root canal is completed, in most cases a crown will be required to cover the tooth, to restore the tooth to it's full shape, form, and color.
Something I want to point out is that most of the time root canals are NOT PAINFUL!! It is a common misconception, that root canals are painful. The idea that root canals are very painful comes from years ago, when anesthetics were not as good, and the root canals were not as effective and took much longer to do. It used to be the case that most root canals took several visits to finish. Now with modern technology most root canals are finished in one visit! Though occasionally it takes two, if there is a very big infection present.
Please view the video below, as the procedure with be much clearer after viewing it.