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Millions of teeth are treated every year with root canal, or endodontic therapy. Not only can it save your teeth, it can save your smile! If you are like many patients, you might be hesitant to be seen for a root canal because of the common perception that it is painful. However, most root canal treatments need not be any more discomforting than having a normal filling done.

How do you know if you may need to have a root canal?

–You may have severe tooth pain when you apply pressure to the area or when you chew.
–You may have prolonged tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperature.
–Your tooth may become discolored or darkened.
–You may have swelling and tenderness in the surrounding gums.
–You may have a recurring, persistent pimple on the gums.

Your tooth consists of the hard enamel on the outside, a layer of dentin underneath, and a soft tissue, or pulp, beneath the dentin, which has blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. A tooth can survive without the pulp, once it is fully developed as long as it is nourished by the surrounding tissue. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, whether because of tooth decay, cracks in the tooth, repeated dental procedures on the tooth or trauma to the tooth, a root canal can restore the tooth.

If you ignore a damaged tooth, the pulp breaks down, allowing bacteria to multiply in the pulp chamber. This, along with decayed debris can cause an infection–or an abscessed tooth. This pus-filled pocket forms at the end of the tooth’s root, causing swelling that can spread to the face, neck or head. It can cause bone loss around the tip of the tooth, and a hole can develop through the side of the tooth where it drains into the gums or into the skin. Without intervention you will have pain and possible tooth loss due to irreparable damage.

What can you expect during a root canal treatment?

Our dentist will numb the tooth. An opening is then made through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber. The infected pulp is removed and the inside is cleaned and disinfected. The tooth is filled and sealed with a rubber compound—gutta percha–to keep the canals free of infection and contamination. The tooth is then restored with a dental crown to protect it. This allows the tooth to function just like a normal tooth!

If you feel you might need a root canal treatment to restore your smile, please call our friendly dental team at 503.370.7651 and let one of our talented dentists help you get your healthy smile back!