Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is made necessary when a cavity is allowed, through neglect, to reach all the way to this pulp. Many new patients come to us with teeth that need root canal therapy that are diseased and infected, and are diagnosed in our office without the patient ever having experienced any pain and being unaware they have such a condition until it's too late. "But doctor, it doesn't hurt?" unfortunately is a unreliable way of determining if you have an infection or not. Regular cleanings and check ups with x-rays can help to prevent and detect problems early BEFORE you experience symptoms or pain. Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy, also. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess).

By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and can not heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system. This is dangerous, not to mention very painful. Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets,
pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth.

Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup. A root canal is then performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp, and disinfect the canals of the tooth. If root canal therapy is not performed to save the tooth, the only other treatment alternative would be to extract the tooth and replace it with a bridge, implant or removable partial.


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