If your tooth becomes infected because a cavity has grown too deep, you may need a root canal to remove the infected nerve of the tooth. Once root canal treatment is completed, you must return for an appointment to have a crown fabricated for the tooth. We recommend regular dental checkup visits so that early detection can help prevent these kinds of problems. Other than due to infection, a root canal could also be necessary when trauma occurs, causing a nerve to be irreparably damaged.
Root canal therapy is indicated when it is necessary to remove the nerve from a tooth due to trauma or infection. If left untreated, an infected tooth that needs this procedure may be unable to be saved and must be extracted. You want this to be the last possible resort because with a missing permanent tooth, more costly procedures will need to be performed to replace it.
Patients with broken teeth, a massive infection, or a tooth with a cavity that is too large to fill will want to try to save the tooth with root canal therapy. Your dentist will let you know if this is a viable option for you.
Root canal treatment has advanced to the point where it can be performed with minimal discomfort, despite popular belief. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic on the area. Root canal is less invasive and less costly than the alternative, which is removing the tooth altogether and having to replace it.
Many patients request sedation for extra comfort during the root canal procedure. Sedation dentistry involves administering nitrous oxide (known as laughing gas), as well as a local anesthetic. Once the procedure is completed, a temporary medicated filling will be placed. Antibiotics may be prescribed to clear any residual infection. You will need to return for another appointment later to ensure the infection is gone. and at that time the tooth should be prepared for a crown.
You may feel some soreness in the jaw joints, but this is quite normal from having held the mouth open during the procedure. Analgesics may be taken for relief if necessary, but actually you should feel better immediately. An oral antibiotic may be prescribed, but is not necessary for everyone.
What to Expect
You will need to return for a follow up appointment so that the doctor can check on the progress of healing and recovery. The second step in saving the tooth and restoring it to optimal form and function will be the preparation of a crown. A buildup of the tooth including a post for inner strength may be needed. A crown restoration will assure better protection from cracking or breaking the tooth in the future. If a crown is not placed, you must still be prepared to lose the tooth all together. Be sure to protect your initial investment of saving the tooth by covering it with a crown.