Root Canal Therapy

Root Canal Therapy in Houston, TX

A root canal is a procedure used to repair and save a tooth that has become severely decayed or has become infected. During the process, the nerve and pulp are removed from the tooth and the inside is then cleaned and sealed. If treatment does not occur, the tissue around the tooth will most likely become infected and abscesses can form.

A root canal describes the natural cavity in the center of a tooth. The pulp or pulp chamber is located within the root canal and is a very soft tissue. The tooth’s nerve is within the root canal. A tooth’s health is important, but its function is sensory. It is to provide sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a tooth’s nerve will not have a great impact on the function of the tooth.

When nerve tissue or pulp becomes damaged, the bacterium begins to break down and multiply within the pulp chamber and can cause infection or abscesses. An abscess is a puss filled pocked that forms at the ends of a tooth and occurs if an infection spreads past the ends of the roots of a tooth.

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Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.

Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would get infected and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realized is that extracting (pulling or removing) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.

Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
  • Sever lasting sensitivity to hot and cold.
  • Severe toothache.
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present.
  • Swelling and/or tenderness.

Reasons for root canal therapy:

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
  • Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
  • Injury or trauma to the tooth.
  • What does root canal therapy involve?

    A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).

    While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

    Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.

    At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials. A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.

    After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth will heal.

    You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.

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