Nothing looks, feels or functions like your natural tooth. Regular brushing and flossing, along with six-month check-ups from your dentist, can help you keep your teeth for a lifetime.
Sometimes your teeth may have infection or disease and will need additional care. When possible, you should always consider treatments to save your teeth. You may think, why not have a tooth pulled, especially if no one can see it, but you will know your tooth is missing and it will negatively impact your quality of life.
Don’t get a tooth pulled because you think its easier or more cost-effective. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift, affect your ability to properly chew and ruin your smile. Tooth extraction often is more painful than the infection itself, and replacing an extracted tooth with an artificial one requires additional dental visits that can quickly add up.
Modern endodontics offers advancements in technologies, procedures and materials, giving you many treatment options to save your natural teeth. It’s important to understand your choices and how they’ll impact both your tooth and your future dental health. It’s always best to retain your natural teeth whenever possible and endodontic treatment should be your first choice for the best health and cosmetic results. Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth. They can evaluate your condition and provide the best treatment plan to help you save your teeth for a lifetime.
Here are some tips for saving your teeth:
- When given a choice between tooth extraction and root canal treatment, always opt for a root canal. No denture, bridge or implant will look, feel and function as well as a natural tooth.
- Act immediately when you experience symptoms of swelling or pain. Most endodontists can accommodate emergency cases, even on weekends, ensuring you’ll be seen quickly.
- If your dentist recommends tooth extraction, ask whether the root canal is an option.
- If you’re told root canal is not an option, ask why and request a referral to an endodontist or use the AAE’s Find an Endodontist search tool to find a practice near you.
Root canals treatment from an endodontist is virtually painless and often leaves you with less discomfort during recovery than if you have your natural tooth extracted. Thanks to modern techniques and effective anesthesia, patients who experience root canals are six times more likely to describe it as painless than patients who have a tooth extracted! Take the time to learn more about root canal treatment and some of the common misconceptions about it and then take the first step to a pain-free, healthy mouth by visiting an endodontist near you.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
It’s necessary to have endodontic or root canal treatment when the inside of your tooth (the pulp) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of deep decay, repeated dental procedures, faulty crowns or a crack or chip in the tooth. Trauma to your tooth may also cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
When you undergo a root canal or other endodontic treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterward, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection and will continue to function like any other tooth.
Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.
For more detailed information on root canals, click to visit our Root Canals Explained page that offers a step-by-step explanation of the procedure.
Why Would I Need An Endodontic Procedure?
Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a crack or chip in the tooth.
In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
You should not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist. The unrestored tooth is susceptible to fracture, so you should see your dentist for a full restoration as soon as possible. Otherwise, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings.
New trauma, deep decay, or a loose, cracked or broken filling can cause new infection in your tooth. In some cases, the endodontist may discover additional very narrow or curved canals that could not be treated during the initial procedure.
What Are The Signs Of Needing Endodontic Treatment?
Signs to look for include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gum tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.
How Does Endodontic Treatment Save The Tooth?
The endodontist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterwards, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Will I Feel Pain During Or After The Procedure?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.
For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Follow your endodontist’s instructions carefully.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your endodontist.