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Root Canal

by John R. Treinen, DDS

When is a Root Canal Needed?

A root canal is needed when the root of a tooth has become so infected or abscessed that it is causing the tooth to decay from the inside out. Abscesses can also cause system infections if left untreated. During a root canal, the doctor will remove the nerve and pulp from the inside of the tooth. They will clean away all of the infection and then refill the existing hole with a hard plastic resin that will seal the inside of the tooth and prevent any bacteria or debris from finding its way inside. A ceramic cap will then be placed over the top of the tooth as an additional means of protection.

Are Root Canals Permanent?

Most root canals are considered to be permanent unless something happens to damage the exterior of the tooth. In some cases, if a person receives an injury in the area of a root canal, the cap may become loose or broken. When this occurs, the dentist will have to remove the cap, clean the area surrounding the tooth to make sure there is no other decay, and then put the cap back into place. If there is extensive damage, a second root canal may be needed. If the damage is too severe, the dentist may recommend removing the tooth and inserting a dental implant in its place.

Is a Root Canal Better Than Having the Tooth Pulled?

Root canals are a much better option than just pulling the damaged tooth. With a root canal, the original tooth will remain in place. Only the interior of the tooth will be treated. If a tooth is pulled, there is a chance that the teeth on either side of the gap may begin to shift toward the hole. This can throw off a person's bite pattern and result in jaw pain and irritation. A root canal can easily correct any type of problem a patient has when it comes to abscesses and infections. If a tooth is too severely damaged and the dentist does recommend removing it, he will probably also advise inserting a dental implant into the area to hold the other teeth in place.

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