Beneath the hard exterior of your tooth is a soft, sensitive material called pulp. A large cavity, cracked tooth, or forceful blow to the tooth can damage the pulp and cause inflammation or infection. Root canal therapy is a procedure to eliminate pressure caused by inflammation and remove damaged or dead pulp.
A root canal is unfairly characterized as a dreaded and painful procedure. On the contrary, root canal therapy is a relatively quick and virtually pain-free procedure. A root canal is the best way to preserve a natural tooth and prevent future damage to your smile.
What is a Root Canal?
The term “root canal” is commonly used to describe “root canal therapy” which is the treatment for inflammation or infection in the pulp chamber and root canal. Every tooth has at least one root, some may have 3 or more. Nerves enter at the tip of a tooth’s root and run through the center of the tooth in a small, thin root chamber. The tiny pathways meet up in the pulp chamber, which contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue.
Signs & Symptoms
Many patients don’t realize they have a problem until they experience pain or swelling. Some indications that a root canal may be needed include:
- Pain when pressure is applied to the tooth (such as biting, chewing or clenching)
- A sensitive tooth, especially to hot or cold food/drink
- Red, swollen and/or tender gums around the tooth
- Discolored tooth
- Broken tooth
Alternatives to Root Canal Therapy
A tooth extraction is the only alternative to root canal therapy for an infected tooth. In most cases, the best treatment option is to preserve the natural teeth. The root canal procedure will eliminate pain and allow you to retain your tooth.
If Dr. Gardner decides that root canal treatment is not indicated and that a tooth extraction is the best option, she and Dr. Hendricks will also help you choose the best tooth replacement treatment. Together, our dentists can provide complete care for the replacement of missing teeth with a dental bridge or dental implant.
To learn more about root canal therapy and find out it’s right for you, contact our Bluffton dental office to schedule a visit with Dr. Morgen Gardner.