The pulp of your tooth, which is the innermost layer, contains the tissues, nerves and blood vessels that make sure your tooth stays healthy. If that pulp becomes infected due to tooth decay or dental damage, our dentists may be able to preserve the structure of the tooth by removing the infection through root canal therapy in Sacramento, California. If one of your teeth has been causing you discomfort, call Sierra Oaks Dental at (916) 481-2000 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Peter Kim or Dr. William Altig.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment is performed to save an infected tooth or one with extensive decay. The procedure removes the nerve and pulp from inside the tooth, then cleans and seals the opening it made. If a root canal is diagnosed and goes untreated, then the infection in the tooth will worsen, leading to more complications. In terms of restorative care, a root canal is option number three after a patient has been diagnosed for treatment of a filling and crown.
The term “root canal” comes from the cleaning of the pulp canal, or chamber, in the center of the tooth. The pulp and nerve in the tooth are removed because of their infected state. The pulp is critical to the growth of our teeth when we are young, but as we age, and our teeth reach their most mature size, the pulp is no longer as critical to the lifespan of the tooth.
Why Opt for a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment is considered when a tooth is infected and the infection has penetrated the pulp of the tooth. The root canal treatment will remove the infected pulp from the center of the tooth, and the canal created will reach all the way through the root of the tooth to extract all infected tissue.
The pulp of the tooth is essential to the tooth when it is growing and maturing when we are in our adolescent years. But as adults, our teeth have fully matured, and the pulp is no longer necessary. Removing the pulp does not pose a risk of jeopardizing tooth structure at this point, as long as the tooth is properly cared for after treatment.
After treatment, a composite buildup may work as a temporary fill for the opening made in the tooth, but ideally, a crown will be placed to restore the tooth to maximum structural integrity. Without a crown placement after a root canal, a tooth can become brittle and prone to breaking and fractures. It is best to create a plan for specific steps after a root canal.
If a root canal is not chosen as treatment in sufficient time, then the tooth may need to be extracted. At this point, the infection of the tooth has grown so much that it is putting neighboring teeth and tissue at high risk of infection. Be sure not to wait too long when deciding on a treatment option.
Benefits of Root Canal Treatment
A root canal can save a tooth from needing to be extracted. Once a tooth is extracted for any reason, the bone underneath the teeth starts to diminish. This bone loss in the jaw can lead to shifting of teeth and facial deformity, among other risks. Saving a tooth through a root canal treatment can negate major costs of more invasive and intensive treatments. The treatments used to treat tooth loss vary from bridges and partial dentures to dental implants and complete dentures. All of these treatments have higher costs associated with them and further take your smile from its natural wellness.
The Process of A Root Canal Treatment
The process will start with a root canal treatment being presented by the dentist and agreed upon by the patient as the best treatment option. The dentist will explain the procedure and show X-rays of the tooth that needs treatment. Depending on the patient, the treatment could take an hour or two. The factors that can affect the length and complexity of the treatment are the number of roots on the tooth and the angles and structures of those roots.
After a Root Canal
After the treatment, a patient may receive antibiotics to control infection in surrounding areas. Depending on the patient’s needs and expectations, they may agree with the dentist to immediately place a crown or do a composite buildup.
Leaving a root canal exposed poses risks of a broken or fractured tooth, as well as further infection. The ideal treatment following a root canal is a crown. A crown provides the highest level of structural integrity to the tooth and allows for the quickest return to normal chewing functions.
Is a Root Canal Right for You?
If you are experiencing swelling and pain in a tooth or area of the gums, then a root canal may be ideal for you. First, you must consult with a dentist and have X-rays taken of the area. The dentist will then be able to inform you of the level of infection and what steps must be taken to save the tooth or treat the area in question.
Cost of a Root Canal
Root canals are highly cost-effective because they help maintain the integrity of your natural smile. Once prosthodontics come into play, then you are stepping away from your original biology, which poses more risks. More risks typically mean more treatments and variables which could end up costing a lot more money down the road. Keeping as many of your original teeth as possible helps keep your smile working, just like the best car maintenance, and just like taking care of cars, leaving a small issue alone can quickly turn into a larger series of problems.
If you have any questions about the process of a root canal, please give us a call! A member of our team will be happy to answer any concerns you have or set you up for an appointment with our skilled dentists!