Root canals may be caused by a number of reasons. Orofacial injuries can traumatize the root and nerve endings of the tooth and cause an abscess. Chipped or cracked teeth can damage the nerves and create space for harmful bacteria to enter the pulp. Severe tooth decay can eat away at the pulp and essentially kill the tooth. Teeth that have infected tissue, abscesses, or decay will be very sensitive to temperature, and cause severe pain in the mouth.
Our San Carlos dentist at Frank Hsu, D.D.S. specializes in this restorative procedure. Nerve endings that have died from decay can inflame the soft tissues of the gum, weakening the tooth's ligaments and its attachment to the root. Infected teeth are at high risk of avulsion from force trauma. Other symptoms of an infected tooth include: swollen tender gums, pimples on the gums, darkened or discolored gums, and pain while chewing or biting.
Anatomy of a Tooth
The outer layer of the tooth is called the enamel. Enamel is a translucent porcelain colored tissue that is extremely durable, harder than bone. It protects the tooth from harmful bacteria and helps you chew tough foods without breaking down.
Beneath the enamel is the dentin. Dentin builds up the body of the tooth. It can appear gray or yellow in color and that color will change with age. Under the enamel is the pulp, the core of the tooth composed of soft tissues, blood vessels, and the tooth's nerve. The nerve and blood vessels supply the tooth with nutrients during its development. When the nerve of a tooth dies from external decay, or decay caused by an abscess, the nerve and pulp has to be removed. Although the nerve and blood vessels brought the tooth vital nutrients during its development, once it's fully formed it no longer needs them for nutrients.
Procedure of a root canal
Root canals are somewhat complex procedures. Our team of experts at Frank Hsu, D.D.S. can complete a treatment in a span of two to three sessions. First, an exam will be necessary so the dentist can assess the damage to the tooth and any damage to the surrounding tissues. A root canal will not save a tooth that is severely decayed. If the patient is eligible for the root canal, a radiograph of the infected tooth is taken with an x-ray. Our dentist uses the image to assess the extent of infection in the tooth, if there's an abscess, and if the infection has spread to any neighboring teeth.
Once the dentist looks at the x-ray, he will administer a local anesthetic, numbing the tooth and surrounding tissues. The tooth has to be isolated from saliva and its neighboring teeth with a small protective sheet called a dental dam. It is placed around the tooth and held in place with a bracket. With the tooth numbed and isolated, the dentist makes a hole in the crown of the tooth. The infected pulp is removed from the tooth's root using small thin instruments and a space is made in the chamber of the tooth. If the tooth has an abscess the pus will be drained before removing the pulp. When the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, the roots are filled with a biocompatible material, preventing further infection. A crown or filling will be placed over the sealed tooth to complete the root canal.
Root Canal San Carlos
Our top priority is preventing the decay and loss of these vital tissues and preventing the need for a root canal overall. Regular cleanings with our dentist every six months can help prevent the need for this treatment. Call us at 650-262-1940 today to schedule a dental exam or cleaning.