Root Canal Therapy in Modesto
Pain: A Red Flag
Your teeth are made up of several layers: outer protective enamel, a secondary layer of dentin, and an inner soft 'pulp' tissue. The pulp is divided into 'chambers', each of which contains nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels—everything required to maintain your tooth's health. Atop each pulp chamber are between one and four 'root canals': thin divisions that branch off and facilitate circulation and other activities within the tooth.
Of course, trouble occurs whenever bacteria seep into and infect the pulp chambers. And this is exactly what can happen with a deep cavity, traumatic injury, or fracture. Once inside the tooth, bacteria can either damage or actually kill the pulp, stimulating increased blood flow and cellular activity, thereby building up tremendous pressure within the tooth itself. Because your body cannot relieve this pressure from within the tooth, severe pain results. And that's just the beginning: without treatment, the infection will spread, causing surrounding bone degeneration, eventual tooth loss, and increased pain.
Initially, you may only notice pain when biting, or when taking in hot/cold foods or drinks; but untreated, it becomes constant. At this point, most people seek emergency dental care, but typically it's too late to save the tooth…typically, this situation forces an extraction. And unfortunately, extraction has its own undesirable side effects: neighboring teeth may shift into improper, crooked positions, leading to malocclusion or a poor bite. In turn, a bad bite puts undesirable wear and tear on the entire dentition, creating additional dental problems over time.
All of this simply emphasizes the importance of notifying us at the first sign of pain or sensitivity in any of your teeth. If it's early enough in the process, Dr. Jeppson can perform tests on the problem tooth and recommend root canal therapy.
Relief: Three Simple Steps
The phrase 'root canal' often strikes fear into dental patients. But it doesn't have to. The repair process is actually quite simple and relatively painless because it's performed with local anesthesia. Typically, you'll have up to three appointments. After thoroughly numb the area, our first step in the procedure is to isolate the problem tooth by placing a rubber sheet around it. Next, Dr. Jeppson will create a gap from the crown down into the infected pulp chamber, clear out all the diseased pulp, and reshape the inside area. He may also insert bacteria-fighting medication. At this point, there are three options, depending on the extent of the problem: either seal the crown temporarily to guard against recontamination, leave it open to drain, or fill the canals.
If you're given a temporary filling, we will probably remove it at a second visit, then fill the pulp chamber and canal with either a rubber-like substance called gutta percha, or another recontamination prevention material. If your tooth is weak, we may insert a metal post above the canal to reinforce it. Finally, once we've filled the cleaned out area, your tooth is permanently sealed. As a last step, Dr. Jeppson will typically strengthen the tooth's structure and improve its appearance with a gold or porcelain crown.
Healing: Better Right Away
Root canal treatments are successful over 95 percent of the time. In very rare instances, an overlooked diseased canal offshoot goes unnoticed, causing the case to be redone. Although you may notice a bit of tissue inflammation-related discomfort for a few days, it is generally controllable with over-the-counter analgesics. Dr. Jeppson will schedule a follow-up exam to monitor tissue healing. Over the long run, you'll need to avoid chewing on hard foods on that tooth, and of course, see us regularly.