Root canal treatment is typically needed when a tooth’s nerve and pulp becomes inflamed, irritated, or infected. An estimated 22.3 million endodontic procedures are performed each year, according to the American Association of Endodontists. During root canal therapy, the interior of the tooth is cleaned and dried, and a temporary filling is placed. There are several reasons why you may require root canal treatment.
Tooth decay, also referred to as cavities, occurs when bacteria living inside the mouth produce acid that eats away at the teeth. If left untreated, minor decay can turn into deep decay, and infection, extreme pain, and even tooth loss can occur. At first, decay may go unnoticed, effecting only the outer enamel of the teeth. Over time, the decay progresses to the deeper layers of tooth, and eventually damages the pulp. The pulp of the tooth contains highly-sensitive nerves and blood vessels.
Repeated dental procedures performed on a single tooth increases its risk for future root canal treatment. There are several reasons why a tooth may require numerous dental treatments. Reoccurring cavities may require that a tooth be filled, the filling removed to remove new decay, and filled again. A tooth may also require repeated dental procedures if an already filled tooth requires a new form of treatment. This may occur if the tooth becomes cracked, chipped, or broken due to trauma or an accident.
Large fillings are sometime required when a cavity is left untreated. When the patient finally does undergo a dental filling, the amount of decay may be extensive, resulting in more tooth structure removal and a larger filling. Not only does a large filling affect the structural integrity of a tooth, it can also increase your risk for root canal treatment. At a minimum, a filling that is greater than 1/3rd of the tooth’s width is considered to be “large”. If the decay or filling reaches the pulp, inflammation or infection may develop.
Cracks, chips, and other types of trauma are often the cause of a root canal procedure. Our teeth are exposed to many stresses, including grinding, clenching, and chewing. While most minor cracks and chips can be repaired using tooth-colored bonding material and possibly a crown to “cap” the tooth, more severe cracks and chips may require root canal treatment in addition to bonding. A root canal will typically be needed if the damage to the tooth has extended into the pulp.
With proper care, teeth that have undergone root canal treatment can last a lifetime. For more information about root canal therapy, contact our restorative dentist in Charlotte today.