Once upon a time, when a tooth became abscessed or badly damaged, the only treatment option would have been to remove the tooth. Today, we have the opportunity to overcome infections and internal damage to make teeth feel better without removing them. We can accomplish this tooth-saving feat with the help of the root canal procedure.

Irreversible Pulpitis

When the nerve and blood supply that is found in the center of each natural tooth becomes infected or severely traumatized, the condition is known as irreversible pulpitis. This means that the nerve tissue inside of the tooth has become irreversibly inflamed, often causing pain and sensitivity. In this state, the nerve within the tooth begins the slow and often uncomfortable process of dying. Fortunately, our teeth can exists without living nerve tissue, but only once the diseased tissue has been carefully removed.

Bacteria is the typical culprit of an infected tooth. This can come in the form of a deep cavity that has introduced germs into the tooth’s blood supply, or a crack in the tooth that has exposed the nerve tissue to the bacteria and fluids within the mouth. The tooth’s nerve tissue can also be severely insulted by an injury such as a hard blow to the mouth that jars the tooth and disrupts the delicate tissues within the tooth. Unfortunately, the nerve inside of a tooth can begin to abscess and die without any warning, and we may never know the exact cause of the problem. Fortunately, once the nerve has been identified as unhealthy, we can generally resolve the issue with the root canal procedure.

Signs and Symptoms of Irreversible Pulpitis

  • Swelling in the gums near the tooth
  • Spontaneous pain, including throbbing or a dull ache
  • Extreme, lingering sensitivity to temperature or pressure
  • Pus or drainage from the tooth
  • Clinical and x-ray evidence in the dental office

Understanding the Procedure

In one or more dental visits, the dentist or endodontist (a dental specialist who provides care for the dental nerve) numbs the tooth with anesthetics and gently removes the diseased nerve tissue and blood supply. This is performed with tiny precision instruments and verified with dental x-rays. With the infected tissue removed, the interior of the tooth can be cleaned and sterilized. The chamber that once housed the tissue will be sealed off with filling material and the tooth will be prepared for a dental crown. Without the nourishment of the blood supply, the tooth will become more brittle over time, and the dental crown will provide a high level of long-term protection.

For more information on saving your natural tooth with a root canal procedure, please contact our office today.