Many people cringe when they hear the term "root canal." However, this tooth-preserving dental service has an undeserved reputation.
Modern root canals, more accurately termed root canal therapy or endodontic therapy, are simple, painless and take just 2 dental appointments with a skilled dentist such as Mark E. Richardson DDS in Kalamazoo, MI. Most importantly, root canal therapy preserves an infected, decaying tooth so it can function normally, providing years of:
- Normal speech
- Jaw bone density and strength
- Gum tissue density and viability
- Tooth alignment
The Root Canal Procedure
Dentists perform root canal therapy when a tooth is injured, severely decayed or abscessed. With a dental abscess, the patient often experiences a throbbing toothache with swelling, gum redness and bad breath. This infection occurs when the soft pulp in one or more root canals or inner tooth chambers is invaded by bacteria.
Comprised of a blood supply, nerves and connective tissue, the pulp is important during tooth development, but in adulthood serves only to signal pain. As such, a tooth can function well for years without the pulp.
To determine the appropriateness of endodontic therapy, Dr. Richardson examines and x-rays the tooth. He then administers a local anesthesia and drills a hole into the tooth chamber. Using a series of small files, he removes the diseased pulp and other debris, applies an antimicrobial medication and seals the chamber. The sealant is a rubbery substance called gutta-percha. Then, the dentist proceeds to the other root canals if necessary and finishes the job with a temporary filling or cap.
The dentist takes an impression of the refurbished tooth and sends it to a dental lab for fabrication of a dental crown to cover and support the remaining tooth structure. Both the initial root canal appointment and the crowning procedure take about one hour each, dispelling the myth that endodontic therapy involves an extended period of time.
Most root canal procedures are successful, and restored teeth last for many years. Endodontic therapy a great way to retain all the benefits of natural tooth structure.
Patients experience tooth or jaw pain should contact the staff of Mark E. Richardson DDS right away for an appointment. Root canal therapy provides relief for thousands of people across the country each year. Call (269) 343-6907.