Today, root canals are a common therapy. More than 14 million root canal treatments are performed every year. Nonetheless, we would all like to avoid them. As your mother would say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Ridgewood Dental is committed to patient education, which helps our patients avoid root canal therapy. At the same time we specialize in prosthodontics, the restoration and replacement of teeth, should the need arise.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is the treatment to repair a tooth that is seriously decayed or has suffered a trauma, both of which can damage or infect a tooth’s interior where the pulp and nerves are located. During a root canal, the diseased pulp is removed from the interior, which is then cleaned and sealed to prevent reinfection. Depending on the extent of damage, the tooth will be topped with either a filling or a dental crown.
Why Are Root Canals Necessary?
If an infection in the tooth’s root canal is not treated, it can lead to severe pain. Infection in the canal can lead to a painful abscess, which is a pocket of pus that develops around the tooth’s roots. The infection can cause bone loss around the roots. The infection could also spread to neighboring teeth, putting them at risk, and cause swelling in the face and neck. In a worst-case scenario, you could develop sepsis, a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout the body.
What Causes an Infection?
A tooth’s root canal can get infected due to:
- A deep cavity
- Repeated dental procedures
- A cracked or broken tooth
- Trauma to the tooth, even if there is no visible damage
How to Prevent Root Canals
The easiest way to help prevent root canals is to be diligent caring for your teeth to prevent decay. Preventing decay starts with the basics of oral hygiene: Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and flossing at least once a day.
Though cavities are a common cause for root canal infection, a tooth can also become infected from a crack or chip in the tooth or when previous dental work starts to fail, such as a filling that becomes loose. Regular dental visits can help avoid this by catching failures early on. An exam may reveal a cracked tooth or a faulty filling. Fillings don’t last forever and must be checked regularly to ensure gaps don’t provide a route for infection.
Trauma to a tooth is another cause for a root canal infection. Trauma, such as a sharp blow, can cause a tooth’s nerve and pulp to become inflamed, even when the exterior of the tooth looks fine. Contact sports increase the likelihood of trauma. We advise our patients to use a mouth guard to prevent injury.
Mouth guards, specifically a night guard, prevent another cause of root canals: Night time grinding and clenching. If you suspect you have this problem, please inquire about our night guards, which are tailored for your mouth.
We offer a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures, including dental crowns, bridges and veneers. If you have questions about root canals, or any other treatment option, please call us to schedule a visit.