If your tooth's nerve chamber becomes infected by decay, root canal treatment is often the only way to save your tooth. Inside your tooth's hard outer shell is a nourishing pulp of blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves. The root canals, which contain the pulp, extend to the bone. Deep tooth decay, or an injury, can cause serious damage and infection to the pulp's nerves and vessels. Root canal treatment, also called endodontic treatment, cleans out the infected pulp chamber and repairs the damage.
Signs a Root Canal is Needed
Some indications of the need for root canal treatment may be:
- Spontaneous pain or throbbing while biting.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
- Severe decay or an injury that creates and abscess (infection) in the bone.
After the tooth is anesthetized, an opening is made through the crown into the pulp chamber. The length of the root canals is determined and any unhealthy pulp is removed. Then, once the canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped, they are filled and sealed. A metal post may be added for structural support or to retain restorative materials. Finally, the tooth is sealed with a temporary filling. Usually a gold or porcelain crown adds further protection.