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When You Need a Root Canal

You’ve just been told you need a root canal but you aren’t really sure what the procedure is and why it is necessary. Here’s a little more information to help you understand your situation.

Your dentist might suggest that you need a root canal to save a tooth that otherwise might be lost. Root canals are needed when the pulp of the tooth has become infected due to decay or injury. Teeth aren’t like other parts of the body so taking oral antibiotics won’t clear up an infected tooth.

The first sign that you may have an infected tooth is sensitivity to heat or cold. Your tooth may feel sensitive when pressure is placed on it and you may have found yourself chewing on only one side of your mouth! If a tooth is feeling “different” than it normally feels then it is time to get it checked.  Teeth don’t have the ability to heal themselves and the pain from an infection can be severe and is something we want to avoid.

Many people become fearful when they hear the words “root canal” but high tech dentistry today allows us to complete root canal therapy on a tooth while the patient remains completely comfortable. If you are nervous about your procedure or about dental visits in general, sedation dentistry is a wonderful option. Dentistry using a “little pill” allows you to receive the needed treatment in a completely relaxed state.

What happens during a root canal? During root canal therapy the tooth is opened up and the infected center of the tooth which contains nerves and the blood vessels is removed. The empty “canal” of the tooth is cleaned and shaped using dental files. The empty space is then filled with a special material.

Teeth that have had root canal therapy become brittle and can break easily. This is why a dental crown is usually placed as a final restoration once the root canal has been completed.

The alternative to root canal therapy is removal of the tooth and replacement with a dental implant or a dental bridge. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are placed in the jaw bone. A special type of implant crown is placed on the implant and the completed restoration feels and acts just like a regular tooth. A dental bridge uses the adjacent teeth to serve as supports while a false tooth “bridges” the gap caused by the missing tooth.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, or sensitivity to heat or cold, please don’t delay contacting Columbus, OH cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy at 614-476-6696.