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Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy can save a tooth whose pulp, which contains its nerves and blood supply, is diseased or damaged. A number of conditions can damage the pulp. For instance, bacteria from a deep cavity can enter the pulp and cause infection. An injury to the tooth can rupture the blood supply or damage a nerve. A fracture to the tooth can expose the pulp to everyday bacteria found in the mouth. When the pulp becomes inflamed, a periapical abscess forms at the root end of the tooth. Root canal therapy is then necessary in order to save the tooth.
All of these conditions can be painful. The pressure created by the inflamed tissue swelling in the pulp chamber stimulates the tooth's nerves. This inflammatory process is known as pulpitis. Sometimes, the deterioration of the pulp happens so gradually that little pain is felt. In either case, the tooth will be lost if it is not treated by root canal therapy.
The first step involves removing the pulp tissue. This is done through a small opening in the crown of the tooth. Once the pulp chamber and root canals have been cleaned and disinfected, medicine is placed in the tooth and it is temporarily sealed. If severe infection is present, your dentist may leave the tooth open for several days to promote drainage.
When the tooth is free of infection, the canals and pulp chamber are sealed with a material that prevents bacteria from re-entering the tooth. Because a root canal filled tooth becomes somewhat brittle, a crown is often recommended to protect the tooth from breakage. Root canal therapy is seldom painful. The tissues surrounding the tooth may be tender for a few days. Aspirin is usually all you need to alleviate this temporary discomfort.
Although the tooth is non-vital, because the pulp has been removed, it still receives nourishment from the outer tissues. Contrary to popular belief, the tooth will not turn black. The slight discolouration that may occur can be treated with a simple bleaching technique. A root canal filled tooth is not a source of infection, nor will it cause any of the many conditions superstitiously attributed to "dead" teeth.
90% of root canal filled teeth last as long as the other remaining natural teeth.
Root canal therapy is a common procedure for saving damaged or diseased teeth. Retaining a natural tooth is better, and less expensive, than replacing it with an artificial one. Of course you should continue scheduling regular dental visits and take good care of your teeth and gums.