A tooth can get sick, and can cause you to get sick. When a tooth gets sick, whether from untreated decay, cracked tooth syndrome, trauma, or otherwise, the pulp or middle must be removed and properly restored in order to return the tooth, and your overall body, back to good health. This is called a root canal. (See Figures 1-5 Below)
Simply put, the tooth gets inflamed (here, from tooth decay) (Figure 1), and may cause an abscess (Figure 2) which circulates throughout your body. To remove this poison, the tooth is opened up from the top, and the abscess is drained. (Figure 3) Medicine which helps heal the tooth is then placed inside (Figure 4) and the root is properly restored. If the root is not restored, a hollow void will remain inside of the tooth where the pulp was. Because the blood supply was removed with the pulp, the tooth is unable to fight infection. Therefore, the hollow root must be filled to prevent bacteria from leaking in from outside, and causing yet another infection. (Figure 5)
Because the tooth was opened from the top, and only a “shell” remains, the tooth would need a crown after the root canal to properly save it. (Figure 6)
Although a root canal is a great way to save a tooth, not all teeth are good candidates. This can only be determined by the tooth’s clinical presentation.
Most root canals, and their crowns that follow, can be done in one or two visits, here in the office! However, again depending on the tooth’s clinical presentation, we may recommend that a root specialist, an endodontist treat the tooth.