Florence Family Dentistry - Dr. Ashley Covington DMD

. . 1527 Heritage Ln, Florence, SC 29505
   (843) 665-6200

Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.

Having a root canal done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed.  This alone can cause the surrounding teeth to move, resulting in a bad bite.  Though a simple extraction may be perceived as less expensive, the empty space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which ultimately can be more costly than root canal therapy.

Why do I feel pain?

When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed due to a deep cavity or fracture, the blood supply to the tooth may be lost and the tooth pulp may die.  Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood flow and activity in the tooth’s cells.  Pressure may build within a tooth that cannot be relieved, causing pain that is commonly felt when biting down, chewing, or consuming hot or cold foods and drinks.

Why might I need treatment?

Without treatment, the infection will spread and bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, possibly causing the tooth to fall out.  Pain usually worsens until you are forced to seek dental attention.

Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.

Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

  • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold.
  • Severe toothache pain.
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present.
  • Swelling and/or tenderness.

Reasons for root canal therapy:

  • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
  • Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
  • Injury or trauma to the tooth.

What does root canal therapy involve?

A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a Dr. Ashley Covington.

While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva.  An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria.  If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.

At the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials.  A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth.  In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed.  This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.

After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.

You will be given care instructions after each appointment.  Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.

How will I feel after treatment?

There may be some infl ammation around the gum tissues, which may cause discomfort for a few days.  This can be controlled by an over-the-counter pain reliever.  A follow-up visit to your dentist will help him or her review how the tissue is healing.  From this point on, brush and fl oss regularly, avoid chewing hard foods on the treated tooth, and see Dr Covington on a regular basis for cleanings and examinations.