Root canal therapy (RCT) is used to address deep-seated infection, decay or trauma that affects the central portion of the tooth, called the pulp. This is where the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues that support the health of the tooth are located. Root canal therapy uses special techniques to address damage in the pulp portion of the tooth so the tooth can be preserved and tooth loss can be avoided.
Most people who need root canals have pain and other discomfort, especially when biting down or chewing, and they may also experience pain and swelling in the gum tissue that surrounds the tooth. The tooth may also be especially sensitive to hot or cold foods or drinks. The only way to know for sure if you need a root canal is to see the dentist at the first sign of symptoms so your tooth can be examined and an x-ray can be taken to see inside your tooth.
Root canal therapy is performed similarly to the way a more superficial cavity is treated, with special techniques to remove the damaged portion of the tooth pulp. Once the damage is removed, the area is carefully cleaned of debris. A special sealant and filling material are used to prevent future decay and infection and also to help strengthen the tooth. Finally, a crown is applied to the tooth to provide extra protection and strength to the entire tooth and to hide the discoloration that may occur.
No, today's pain management techniques are very effective in reducing discomfort both during and following root canal therapy. Any discomfort you do feel can be managed with over-the-counter pain medicines.
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