2 Questions And Answers About Root Canals

Root canals are endodontic procedures that are used to remove the internal contents of a tooth. A healthy tooth is filled with living pulp that contains a blood supply and dental nerves. When a tooth becomes damaged by infection or trauma, the dental nerves within the tooth may become inflamed. To relieve the discomfort, a dentist may perform a root canal, removing the inflamed, pain-producing dental nerves. Here are a couple of questions and answers about root canals:

Why should you get a root canal instead of an extraction?

Less Dental Shifting

An extraction does alleviate the pain of an infected tooth, and on average, it costs less than a root canal. However, a root canal allows you to save your tooth. Thus, your tooth can continue to act as a placeholder for adjacent teeth to help prevent them from shifting out of alignment.

Preserves Appearance

In addition, a root canal preserves the aesthetic aspects of your tooth. After the pulp is removed, the tooth is filled, and a dental crown is applied. A porcelain crown can be selected to match the color and shape of adjacent teeth. Thus, with a root canal, the look of your smile can remain the same as it was before the procedure.

Jawbone Stimulation

Root canals also allow jawbone stimulation to continue as you chew. Once a tooth is removed, the jawbone at the site of the extraction may atrophy, resulting in bone loss.

How many visits are needed to complete a root canal?

Years ago, a root canal required at least two dental visits for completion. During the first visit, the material inside the tooth was removed, the tooth was disinfected and filled and a temporary crown was placed. The permanent crown had to be fashioned in a dental laboratory from a dental impression of the patient's mouth, so the creation of the crown could take several weeks. 

Nowadays, a root canal can be completed in one dental visit if a dental office employs CEREC technology. CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. CEREC technology allows the porcelain crown to be created from digital images of the patients teeth using an in-house computerized milling machine. Since the permanent crown can be produced the same day that the root canal is performed, the need for a second visit is eliminated.

A root canal can help save a decayed or traumatized tooth. If you are experiencing symptoms of dental infection or trauma, such as increased sensitivity to heat and cold, the development of a dental abscess or unusual discoloration of a tooth, contact a dentist in your area for a full dental assessment.