February 3, 2010

Endodontic Treatment: AKA Root Canals

The Basics of Endodontic Treatment

Endodontic treatment is work done on parts of the tooth that are out of view. This includes the “pulp” that fills the canal of the tooth’s root. In fact, this work is best known by the term “root canal.”

Tooth decay or damage can lead to an infection or inflammation of the soft inner pulp. When this happens, it can cause pain and may even lead to an abscess at the root’s tip. If left untreated, this condition can get worse. The tooth may even need to be removed. The main point of endodontic therapy is to save the tooth and avoid this outcome.

Endodontic Therapy: How it Works

In root canal work, a dentist or a specialist known as an endodontist takes out the problematic pulp, and then cleans, sculpts, and seals the root canal. The dentist then attaches a crown (or some other restoration) to the tooth to help protect it so it can be used normally.

Root Canal Facts

While the term “root canal” may sound scary to many people, most patients who have this type of work are spared any serious pain, thanks to the anesthesia they are given before the work begins. The treated tooth may feel tender in the days after a root canal, but this can be managed with pain meds.

After the root canal is done and the tooth has healed, you can brush and floss as usual. No other special care is needed.

Deciding if a Root Canal is Needed

Some signs that you may need a root canal include pain, discomfort in a particular tooth when you eat or when the tooth experiences changes in temperature, and a change in a tooth’s color. Lymph nodes that are distended, leaky, or sore are also common signs that a root canal may be required.

Talk to your dentist if you experience these or related conditions.