Preconceived notions about root canal therapy make some people shudder at the thought of this procedure. The old stories that still circulate about the pain of this treatment are outdated and born in the rudimentary dentistry of yesteryear. Modern root canal therapy simply ends the suffering from one of the most painful of all dental conditions – an infected tooth.
An infection forms when bacteria reaches the pulp chamber in the center of the tooth, usually due to deep decay or a fracture. The pulp chamber houses the soft tissue (pulp) that contains the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When the pulp is damaged and cannot heal itself, the cellular activity and blood flow increases, creating pressure and therefore pain inside the tooth.
The pain will not stop until a root canal treatment is performed or the tooth is extracted. If the tooth is not treated, the infection will spread to the surrounding tissue, increasing the pain, and deteriorating the tissue, tooth, and bone. With modern anesthesia, tools, and techniques, root canal treatment is virtually painless, comparable to getting a large filling.
The treatment consists of making a small hole in the chewing surface of the tooth to give the doctor access to the pulp chamber. He removes the tiny blood vessels, nerves, and debris from the inside the tooth. The chamber is cleaned, shaped, disinfected and sealed with a biocompatible material. A dental crown is usually placed on the tooth to protect it from further damage. There may be some post treatment sensitivity and soreness for a few days, which can be relieved with over the counter pain medications.
The only alternative treatment for an infected tooth is extraction, which creates a new set of problems that will require additional dental work. A bridge, denture, or dental implant will be required to fill the gap left by the extraction. If the space is not filled, the remaining teeth can begin to drift into the gap, creating misalignment. Misalignment can increase the risk of periodontal disease, make dental work more difficult, and cause problems with the jaws. It is important to oral and overall health to replace missing teeth. Extraction truly is not the easiest or best choice to treat an infected tooth.
Some of the symptoms of an infected tooth are chronic toothache, a darkened or discolored tooth, lingering pain after exposure to hot or cold, swelling around the tooth, and tenderness or pain when chewing. If you have any of these symptoms, call Biltmore Dental Center at (602) 954-8200 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Koppikar. His caring manner and gentle touch will put you at ease, and his skilled treatment will stop the pain permanently.