Natural teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Even if one of your teeth becomes injured or decayed, it can often be saved through a specialized dental procedure known as root canal (endodontic) therapy. This treatment can be done comfortably in modern dental practice.
Root canal treatment usually involves the removal of the tooth’s pulp (soft tissue of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue). Once removed, it is replaced with filling materials that seal off the root canal. Years ago, diseased or injured teeth were often extracted.
If the injured or infected pulp is not removed, the tissues surrounding the root of the tooth can become infected and an abscess can form, resulting in pain and swelling and in some circumstances systemic illness. Without treatment, the tooth will have to be removed and replaced.
A common question is, “Why couldn’t you just remove the tooth?”
There are many disadvantages to losing a natural tooth. When a tooth is removed and not replaced, the adjacent teeth may begin to shift from their normal position. This may cause the teeth to become crooked or crowded, which decreased biting and chewing efficiency. Crowded or crooked teeth may be more prone to gum disease because they are harder to keep clean than properly aligned teeth. A replacement tooth (an implant or bridge) can be more expensive than endodontic treatment and can involve extensive dental procedures on adjacent teeth.
A tooth with a root canal filling can provide years of service especially when covered by a crown after treatment.