Root canal treatment is needed for two main reasons:
An untreated cavity is a common cause of pulp infection. The decay erodes the enamel and dentin of the tooth until it reaches a root canal. This allows bacteria to infect the pulp and antibiotics are not a permanent solution. The inflammation caused by the infection reduces the blood supply to the tooth. The reduced blood supply also keeps the pulp from healing.
Trauma or a fractured tooth can damage the pulp. So can a lot of restorations, such as several fillings placed in the same tooth over a period of time.An infection in the pulp can affect the bone around the tooth. This can cause an abscess to form. The goal of root canal treatment is to save the tooth by removing the infected or damaged pulp, treating any infection, and filling the empty root canals.
If root canal treatment is not done, an infected tooth may have to be extracted. It is better to keep your natural teeth if you can. If a tooth is missing, neighboring teeth can drift out of line. They also can be overstressed from chewing. Keeping your natural teeth also helps you to avoid other treatments, such as implants or bridges. Also, if you ignore an infected or injured tooth the infection can spread to other parts of your body.
An uncomplicated root canal treatment often can be completed in one visit. Once the root canal treatment is finished, you will need to have a crown or filling placed on the tooth. You are likely to receive a crown if the tooth is discolored or if it is used for chewing. The purpose of the crown is to prevent the tooth from breaking in the future.
Dr. Halpin performs most root canals himself, so a referral is rarely required.