A root canal (RC) is a critical part of each tooth as well as the name given to a common endodontic procedure for correcting infections of the canal.
What Is an Endodontic Procedure?
A tooth consists of many parts most of which are below the gum line. The tooth is a bone-like structure embedded in the jaw bone. The upper part consists of enamel. The lower part below the gum-line contains a canal containing nerves and blood vessels that sustain the life of the tooth.
The nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues comprise the “pulp”. The pulp runs through an open canal to feed the upper part of the tooth. Being open, the canal is susceptible to bacterial invasion. Bacteria lead to infection and painful inflammation. A prolonged infection destroys the blood vessels and results in the death and rot of the tooth.
How Does Pulp Get Infected?
Infections of the canal arise from various sources. The otherwise sterile canal gets invaded by bacteria. Tooth decay, a tooth abscess, or a cracked tooth all provide access for bacterial invasion of the vulnerable canal.
What Are the Symptoms of an Infected Canal?
- Persistent tooth pain
- Pain in your mouth or jaw
- Sensitive tooth
- Inflammation of gums
Tooth decay and RC infection are not just localized problems. Once bacteria invade the canal an infection develops. That infection gets into the blood vessels and the entire blood system invading other organs of your body. Immediate attention to a RC infection is imperative.
What Is an Endodontist?
An endodontist is a dentist who has additional training, usually two years, in the dental procedure of endodontics or RC surgery. The highly specialized practice includes the diagnosis and treatment of tooth pain caused by conditions of the pulp as well as tissues outside of the tooth roots.
Once, the only remedy for tooth decay such as RC infection was to extract the tooth. An endodontic procedure is meant to save the tooth. With endodontic technology and oral surgery, infected teeth can be saved and the infection can be stopped from entering your bloodstream.
Despite the common fear of a dreaded endodontic procedure, it’s a procedure no more painful than any other dental procedure. It is performed in your endodontist’s office under local anesthesia.
From your perspective, the endodontic procedure is not much different than drilling out a cavity and replacing it with gold, porcelain, or other material or a crown. Once your mouth is anesthetized, your endodontist will:
- Place a tarp over the tooth to be treated
- Drill the enamel to access the pulp tissue
- Remove diseased pulp tissue
- Clean out and disinfect the canal
- Fill and seal the enamel
You probably will have some minor discomfort after an endodontic procedure. This is usually treated with over-the-counter painkillers, or your endodontist may prescribe a pain killer. Most patients return to work the same day.
An infected RC is nothing to trifle with. It results from bacteria invading the root vessel inside your tooth. That bacterial infection can spread to other parts of your body through your bloodstream.
If you have any of the symptoms you should consult your dentist immediately. He or she might refer you to an endodontist. Long Island Endodontics NY has many years of specialized experience with oral procedures, including endodontic treatments.