The field of endodontics is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on the inner tissues and makeup of the tooth structure. This is an area of the tooth that can deteriorate over time if proper oral hygiene is not maintained. When this happens, a common treatment to correct this infection is root canal therapy, which aims to eliminate any sensitivity or discomfort caused by an infected tooth root. This treatment is two-fold: not only does it relieve pain, but it leaves an infected tooth in a healthy and disinfected state by replacing the infected tooth root with a replacement material. In addition, root canal treatments help save teeth from extraction by preserving the entire tooth. In addition to root canals, there are many other endodontic treatments that address concerns affecting the roots of teeth – microsurgeries can be performed that address issues with the tips of the tooth’s roots, and other types of treatments can be leveraged that help address pain and discomfort stemming from endodontic issues. Overall, there are many ways in which the field of endodontics can help preserve your natural teeth!
What Goes On Inside The Tooth?
Do you know what happens inside the tooth? Lying beneath the tooth’s enamel (the surface layer of the teeth), is a thicker layer of material called dentin, which, accounts for a large amount of the tooth’s structure. Dentin also helps translate stimulation to the nerves of your teeth when triggered.
Within the inner canals of the tooth, called root canals, is the pulp of the tooth, which consists of nerves and blood vessels that are attached to the center of the tooth. When infection or other issues arise in this area of the tooth, the first thing you may notice is discomfort and sensitivity. In some cases, patients may experience intense pain. If this infection continues without treatment, this pain will subside as the nerve cells begin to die. However, this will not fix the issue of inner tooth decay – when prolonged, ignoring this issue can result in teeth being extracted. This is where endodontic treatments come in to save the day (and your teeth)!
What Can Cause Endodontic Issues In The First Place?
Many patients often wonder what leads to root canal complications in the first place, as these structures are located within the tooth and not the surface where they can be subjected to food particles and plaque. It’s important to note that as tooth decay is prolonged, bacteria from the surface of the tooth can find itself inside the tooth’s surface. Cracks in damaged teeth can quicken this process, making it even more important to correct severe tooth trauma like this as soon as possible after the trauma occurs.
Endodontic Trauma — Many types of dental injuries can result in damage to the inner layers of the tooth. Sports injuries, for instance, can expose the inner layers of the tooth such as the pulp and dentin to outside infection they do not normally come in contact with. If a tooth breaks, chips, or cracks, infections like these can take place. Even occurrences like a large number of dental fillings being applied in a short time span can expose the inner layers of the tooth to infection. As stated above, it’s important to have dental trauma addressed as soon as possible after occurring to prevent any potential interior infection.
An Overview of Endodontic Treatments
In all of dentistry, root canals are perhaps the most dreaded of routine procedures. However, thanks to modern advancements in dentistry and sedation, there’s no need to fear a root canal! Keep in mind that the goal of root canals is to relieve discomfort and pain, not add to it. Many patients aren’t aware that with local sedation (similar to what patients receive during a filling), most patients feel little to no discomfort when undergoing a root canal procedure. Here’s a breakdown of how these procedures are performed:
These procedures will begin with a numbing agent, this shot being the most uncomfortable part of the procedure for some patients. Then, your doctor will access the inner layers of the tooth through a small opening that is made, which allows them to access the inner chambers and roots of the tooth. Dead and infected material is then removed using small tools, and these areas are then disinfected to prevent further complications, and the infected material is replaced with a safe, synthetic material.
After your treatment, your dentist may recommend other treatments that help prevent further endodontic concerns such as certain restorative treatments, crowns being one example, that help preserve the full functionality and appearance of your teeth. When endodontic concerns are addressed properly, these teeth should remain healthy for years to come.