Root Canal Therapy

Why do you need root canal therapy?

At Dr. Yolanda Cruz Dentistry, we offer root canal therapy. Root canal therapy is necessary when the tooth pulp (the soft tissue inside the root canal), becomes inflamed or infected and degenerates. Patients typically experience symptoms of painful throbbing in the tooth or jaw.  This inflammation or infection may be due to deep tooth decay, cracks or chips in the tooth, or repeated dental restorations that have weakened the integrity of the tooth. Additionally, tooth trauma may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, as a result it can cause pain or an abscess and eventually result in bone loss to the jawbone.  Root canal therapy is a dental procedure performed to save the tooth.



What are the symptoms that a root canal is needed?

How do you know if you should call Dr. Cruz for a root canal consult? You may need root canal treatment if your tooth is causing you pain, the gums adjacent to the tooth are tender and swollen, if your tooth has become discolored (yellow, grey, or black) or the tooth has become extra sensitive to heat and cold. Dr. Yolanda Cruz will evaluate the tooth, and if the tooth pulp is damaged, she may recommend a root canal procedure.

Some causes of dental pulp damage:

  • Dental caries (cavities)
  • chipped teeth
  • cracked dental fillings
  • trauma to the teeth

If dental caries (cavities) are not treated promptly, the decay spreads down into the tooth pulp, causing nerve damage. Cracked dental fillings can allow saliva and harmful bacteria to reach the root canal and infect the pulp. Fractured teeth can expose the pulp. Injury to the teeth can cause pulp damage even if there are no external signs of damage to the inside of the teeth.

Why is root canal therapy necessary?

When the nerves inside the tooth pulp die, the tooth dentin and enamel will no longer receive organic nutrients and moisture. The inflamed tissue surrounding the tooth can cause toothache and infection that can damage the jaw bone around the teeth. If the damaged pulp is not removed and the infection treated, the infection can cause the tooth to loosen as a result. Once the tooth reaches this stage, it may have to be removed. Root canal therapy is necessary to preserve the tooth and also protect the jawbone.

The root canal procedure

First, Dr. Yolanda Cruz will review the x-ray of the infected tooth and then administer a local anesthetic to numb the area. Second, Dr. Cruz will remove the damaged or dead nerve tissue through an opening in the crown of the tooth. Next, using a special tool called a root canal file, Dr. Cruz will clean out the root canal and flush away debris and bacteria. If your tooth had an infection, Dr. Cruz will pack medication into the canal and cover the tooth with a temporary filling. The medication will be allowed to sit for about one week.  If your tooth did not suffer an infection, Dr. Cruz will then move to the step.

Next, Dr. Cruz will fill the interior of the tooth with a sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta-percha, and then seal the tooth opening with a filling.  Finally, if the structure of the tooth is still strong, the procedure is complete.  However, if the tooth structure was weakened by extensive decay or other damage, then Dr. Cruz will need to place a crown or other restoration over the tooth so it is protected, and restore it to full function.