In the older, and arguably scarier, days of dentistry, suffering from an injured or disease-ridden tooth nerve meant having to have it taken out completely. Thankfully, modern dentistry has come a long way since, with root canal therapy allowing patients to retain their teeth and fix their smile, all in the span of 2 to 3 visits to our offices.
Root Canal Treatment at a Glance
A tooth is made of bone, but not solid bone. Each tooth actually has a hollow cavity has a pulpy substance containing all the nutrients necessary to keep the tooth and nerves healthy. This pulpy tissue, however, is still susceptible to oral disease and injury, which in turn can lead to infection and a complete loss of the entire tooth.
A root canal treatment aims to salvage what’s left of the compromised pulp in the tooth’s root canal; the dentist does this by drilling a small hole through the tooth, sucking out the damaged pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing the hole with a crown to restore the tooth’s structural integrity.
What Happens When you Leave a Damaged Root Canal Alone?
Infection is the most common complication of a compromised root canal. An exposed or diseased tooth nerve can lead to pus collecting at the root of the tooth in your very jawbone. Left alone, the pus can form an abscess that feeds on the bone and the surrounding teeth, leading to the affected tooth becoming loose. And trust us when we say this can lead to a world of hurt.
Root Canal Therapy Alternatives
The simplest alternative to fixing a damaged or disease tooth nerve is to extract the compromised tooth. It’s faster and cheaper, but it leaves you with another problem: a missing tooth. While a missing tooth doesn’t seem like a big deal, the fact that you now have a gap in your chompers means the other teeth can move around, possibly positioning themselves in a crooked way. To fix this, you now have to undergo another dental procedure in the form of dental implants or bridges, which can cost even more money.
In other words, root canal therapy is often a better and cheaper treatment option.