Your trusted Root Canal Specialist in Memphis
A root canal is a dental procedure that many patients have heard about, but might not fully understand. Also known as endodontic therapy, a root canal is a specialized dental intervention that treats the pulp at the center of the tooth.
Pulp is a collection of nerves and vessels within the tooth's inner chamber. When infection of the pulp occurs through damage or decay, a root canal can eliminate the source of the pain and restore the tooth to its normal function.
At the Wohrman Dental Group, we have years of experience in performing dental root canals in Memphis. While the idea of a root canal might sound unpleasant to some, understanding its purpose and how the procedure is done can help to reduce patient anxiety.
If cavities progress deep enough into the tooth, to involve the pulp tissue of the tooth, a root canal is sometimes necessary to fix the tooth. A root canal cleans out the infection in the pulp tissue, allowing us to fix and keep the tooth.
The tooth is made up of three different materials or sections. The white, hard, outer layer is the enamel. Under the enamel is a softer and porous material called dentin. Deep within the body of the tooth, under the dentin is what we call the pulp of the tooth. The pulp of the tooth is made up of the blood supply and the nerve supply of the tooth. Our teeth are alive and vital structures. The pulp of the tooth is what allows the tooth to be alive and vital and respond to stimuli, such as hot and cold. Cavities are caused by a special type of bacteria that are always present in our mouths. When these cavity causing bacteria progress and grow unchecked in our teeth, they enter the pulp and a bacterial infection occurs in the blood supply of our tooth. We fix this infection with a procedure called a root canal.
Why is the procedure called a root canal?
Good question. Well, the upper portion of our teeth, the part that we see in our mouth and the part of the tooth that we use to chew with, is anchored into our jaw bones by extensions called roots. The roots extend from the main portion of the tooth into the bone. The main portion of the pulp of our tooth (called the pulp chamber) is housed within the main portion of our tooth. The pulp chamber has off shoots that extend down the middle of the roots. The off shoots of the pulp are called pulp canals. The bacterial infection encompasses the pulp chamber and also the pulp canals. During a root canal procedure, we disinfect the pulp chamber and canals all the way to the end of the tooth's roots. That's why it's called a root canal!
Signs That a Tooth May Need a Dental Root Canal
Infected teeth are often exceptionally sore. If you have a tooth in need of a root canal, you may experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods or even tenderness in the area where you chew. You might see an abscess, which can look like a small pimple on the gums, which can also indicate an infection. Swelling or drainage into nearby gum tissues, bone or lymph nodes is another sign. Touching or tapping on or around the tooth may produce a painful feeling. Lastly, a discolored tooth is another warning sign for decay that might require a root canal intervention.
If the structure of your tooth is cracked or broken, the pulp can become exposed and necessitate removal of the pulp through a root canal procedure. Sometimes, teeth are non-symptomatic, so you might not know you need a root canal until you come in for your regular exam.
An abscess may be visualized on an X-ray and need to be treated because the pulp has been destroyed and bone loss is occurring. Patients may be totally unaware of this serious problem. When this happens, a root canal is usually the best treatment to stop the infection.
Reasons Why A Root Canal May Be Necessary
Teeth that are severely decayed may require dental root canals. Untreated tooth decay is a progressive condition. If diagnosed early, a simple filling is often adequate to heal the tooth and restore its healthy function. If decay is aggressive or widespread, the inner pulp of the tooth may be compromised, threatening the tooth’s vitality. When this occurs, having a root canal may be the best option to save the tooth.
In cases where trauma to the teeth has occurred (for example, from a sports injury or motor vehicle accident), emergency root canals may be needed. If a tooth is broken or has a crack in it, pulp can become exposed, leading to infection, pain, and possible complications.
If you have sustained a traumatic incident involving your teeth, be sure to schedule a consultation with us as soon as you can. Our after-hours call service is always available, and we have been doing emergency root canals in Memphis for years.
Advantages of a Root Canal Treatment
Root canal therapy is an effective intervention that can actually save a tooth. This has many benefits, such as prolonging your ability to chew and eat properly, which is vital to your health. There are also cosmetic advantages to keeping your teeth. It is important to maintain the integrity of your teeth. When a tooth is missing, other teeth can shift and cause problems with alignment.
Treating your tooth, rather than extracting it, is better for your long-term oral health. The nerve of the tooth may be gone post-procedure, but the roots will still be present and can stimulate your bone to continue self-maintenance.
By choosing a root canal over extraction, you can also stave off more complex and expensive treatments like dental implants.
Can Any Tooth Be Treated with a Root Canal?
Most teeth can be treated, but not all of them. Sometimes, a tooth fracture is so severe that a root canal may not be an option. In other cases, the canals may not be accessible. If there is suboptimal bone support around a tooth or if a tooth could not be restored after undergoing treatment, then root canal therapy will not be effective.
Because of advances being made in the field of dentistry, more patients may be good root canal candidates. Thankfully, these new techniques have also made the entire root canal process more comfortable for patients undergoing the procedure.
The Consequences of Waiting Too Long for a Root Canal
If you wait too long to seek treatment for a tooth that needs a root canal, several problems can occur. The tooth may be too severely damaged to be saved, in which case tooth extraction would become the only option. If the infection in the root is left untreated, bone loss can develop.
An added risk is that infection can spread from the local tooth area and infect other parts of the body, creating a life-threatening situation. Infected pulp should be promptly addressed. The earlier it is taken care of, the more likely your tooth can be saved.
How to Minimize the Risks of Needing a Root Canal
To keep your mouth healthy, follow oral care guidelines to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Try to avoid hard candies or crunching down on ice. If your teeth are weak or filled with restorations, even crunchy fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples can crack a tooth. Chewing these types of foods can increase your chance of fracturing your tooth or breaking a filling, which gives bacteria an open portal into the pulp cavity.
People who grind their teeth can actually wear facets into their teeth and weaken their overall tooth structure, so wearing a mouth guard at night can offer some protection. The same advice applies to sports. Protecting your teeth from injury can make it less likely that you will need a root canal. But if you do, we will be ready for you.
Avoid or limit acidic drinks like sodas and citrus juices that can affect tooth enamel. Be sure to have regular dental checkups and cleanings, and always have any new tooth pain evaluated without delay.
Our knowledgeable staff is here to answer any questions you may have. When you come in for your scheduled appointment, our staff members will work to keep you feeling safe and comfortable during your time at the office.
We will thoroughly explain the root canal procedure every step of the way. Our caring team will inform you about what to expect after the root canal and review any post-op care procedures that you will need to follow at home.
Root Canals in Memphis, TN
For services ranging from basic cleanings to emergency root canals in Memphis, we are the family dental practice of choice. At the Wohrman Dental Group, we value the trust that you place in our office and we vow to do everything we can to make your root canal procedure a positive experience.