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"I used to mind going to the dentist. Now I am relaxed and don't mind. The whole staff I have dealt with take the time with you to be sure you understand what is going on."
Jamie A., Merrimack
What is endodontics?
Endodontics is the area of dentistry that focuses on the inside chamber of the tooth, called the pulp, as well as the tooth roots. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerve tissue that helps keep the tooth alive and healthy. Endodontic treatments remove disease and infection from the pulp chamber and around the tooth roots. The most common treatment is root canal therapy (RCT).
What does root canal therapy involve?
The first thing your dentist will do during your RCT appointment is to completely numb the area. When you are comfortable, your dentist will make a little hole in your tooth to access the pulp chamber. He or she will remove all of the pulp tissue in the tooth and roots as well as any decay. A number of xrays are taken during treatment to help your dentist during the process The pulp chamber is irrigated to remove any remaining bacteria and finally, the chamber will be filled with permanent filling material and cement and sealed with a temporary material.
What are some signs or symptoms that root canal therapy may be needed?
Indications of an infection include:
- tooth sensitivity to temperature (cold or hot) or pressure
- moderate to severe pain from the tooth nerve
- swelling around the tooth
- a "pimple" on the gum
- a bad taste in your mouth
At times, no symptoms are present and the infection is found by x-ray and examination. Your dentist will discuss his or her findings and any treatment options with you during the exam.
Once I have root canal therapy, do I need anything else?
Once your tooth has had RCT and the blood vessels and nerves are removed, that tooth no longer receives nutrition - essentially it's no longer alive. The tooth will lose much of its strength and can be vulnerable to breaks, chips and fractures. Covering the tooth with a full-coverage restoration such as a cap or crown will increase its strength, protect it from fracture, improve esthetics (teeth after RCT will darken over time), and increase your ability to function normally with it.
Would it be more practical to extract the tooth, rather than have root canal therapy?
Tooth extraction is certainly an option and best for teeth that are absolutely cannot be saved. Extracting a tooth leads to other concerns about the bone and gum tissue in the area of the extraction, the effect on adjacent teeth moving, the change to your bite (how your upper and lower teeth meet), as well as possible changes in chewing, speaking and esthetics. Teeth that are extracted should be replaced by a dental implant,fixed bridge or a removable partial to prevent some of these problems from affecting you. You can discuss all the options with your dentist and decide what is best for you.
How can I learn more about endodontics?
If you have questions about endodontics or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact our office at (603) 262-1299 or e-mail us at info@NHCCD.com