Root canal therapy is a dental procedure that involves removing the inner pulp of your tooth, which houses all the nerves and blood vessels that keep your tooth alive, and sealing the inner chamber with a biocompatible material to protect your tooth.
There are several reasons why a root canal may need to happen. Root canals help repair damaged teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted. While root canals have gotten a bad reputation in the past for being painful, advances in dentistry have made root canal therapy no more painful than getting a cavity filled for most people.
Dentists typically conduct root canals in-office, but if you have a unique case, you may need a referral to an endodontist—a specialist at saving teeth—to do your root canal. Here’s how root canal therapy works and under what circumstances you would need this procedure to save a tooth.
When a Root Canal Is Necessary
People normally need root canal therapy when some type of trauma has happened to the tooth that has affected the inner nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. There are several instances where this can happen.
- Cracked tooth. Cracked teeth are one of the most common reasons for a root canal. You may have had a small crack that got worse over time, extending down the tooth and allowing bacteria to enter the tooth’s inner chamber. This can cause a tooth infection which typically requires a root canal to fix.
- Deep decay. If you have extensive tooth decay, your dentist in Asheville may not be able to save your tooth with a filling alone. If the decay has progressed to the point that it has affected the tooth’s pulp, a root canal or extraction will be necessary.
- Tooth infection. A tooth infection generally results from bacteria entering the tooth’s chamber. While a tooth infection is typically painful, some people experience asymptomatic tooth infections, meaning they don’t have symptoms. If you have a tooth infection, you may also have a tooth abscess, which is a lump in the gum tissue where pus from an infection can accumulate. Either way, a root canal or extraction will be needed to fix your tooth.
- Chipped teeth. While root canal therapy isn’t generally needed for chipped teeth, if you have a severe chip or a chip that’s gotten worse over time, it’s possible that you may need root canal therapy to fix the issue and restore your tooth.
- Injury to the tooth. Any type of injury to the tooth, such as a broken tooth, bruised tooth, or an impact to the tooth, can affect the inner tissue and cause the tooth to become infected or die. If the tooth dies, you’ll generally see the tooth turn a darker color than your other teeth. Fortunately, root canal therapy can restore both the health and color of your affected tooth.
After your dentist in Asheville carefully removes the inner tissue of your tooth and seals the chamber, a dental crown will be placed on top to protect your tooth from any further damage. A dental crown is fabricated to look just like your natural teeth and will keep your tooth safe after root canal therapy.
Advantages of a Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction
Root canal therapy allows you to save your natural tooth and prevent the need for a tooth replacement. Replacing a missing natural tooth can not only cost more money, but requires more time and appointments, whether you opt for a dental bridge, dental implants, or partial dentures.
With root canal therapy, you can maintain your existing smile and save time and money from a tooth extraction. Root canals have a high success rate, meaning your procedure is likely to go smoothly and leave you with the smile you know and love.
Root canals take a few days to heal, but your discomfort shouldn’t last long. However, if you’re still experiencing discomfort after a few days, always follow up with your Asheville dentist to ensure there’s not a problem with your healing.
When a Root Canal May Not Be the Right Choice
Unfortunately, not all damaged teeth can be saved with root canal therapy. There are certain instances in which teeth can’t be fixed with a root canal. These situations could include teeth that have:
- Deep vertical cracks. While cracked teeth can often be saved with a root canal, teeth that have vertical cracks extending below the gumline typically can’t be fixed with root canal therapy. This is because the crack extends beyond the tooth’s chamber.
- Extensive infection or decay. If a tooth has had all-encompassing decay or an extensive infection, a root canal may not be able to save the tooth. It all depends on your unique case.
- Had repeated dental procedures. When a tooth has had numerous dental procedures already done to it, such as a previous root canal, filling, or crown, a root canal may not fix the problem.
In cases such as these, an extraction may be your only option. However, each case is different, and the only way to know for sure if root canal therapy will help save your tooth is by getting a consultation with your Asheville dentist. If you have the option to get a root canal, however, this is usually the best choice of treatment to save your tooth!
Are You Experiencing Tooth Pain?
If you’re experiencing tooth pain such a toothache, tooth sensitivity, or have a single discolored tooth, it’s possible that you could need root canal therapy to save your smile.
Your dentist can let you know if root canal therapy is an option based on your unique case. For many people, a root canal gives them the chance to keep their natural teeth while repairing cracks, decay, or infections.
Contact us at Saunders DDS to learn more about our root canal therapy options for saving your teeth. Call us at (828) 277-6060, or use our contact form to request an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!