Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is necessary when a cavity, through neglect, reaches all the way to the nerve tissue inside the tooth. Sometimes deep restorations (fillings) or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy.
Once this occurs the nerve becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone. By the time the nerve is infected it must be treated because it cannot heal on its own. Infected teeth can even weaken the body’s entire immune system. This is dangerous, not to mention very painful. Symptoms that the nerve has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.
A root canal is then performed to clean out the infected tooth nerve, and disinfect the inside of the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled in to prevent any further infection. Following root canal therapy, it is necessary to cover the tooth with a crown to prevent the tooth from fracturing or breaking. A root canal and crown can be done in two visits in most cases – usually 2 hours for the first appointment and then only 20 minutes for the second appointment 3 weeks later.