What do I do if I have a toothache?
Tooth pain typically comes from “cavities” or decay. If your tooth pain is waking you up at night, or if it hurts without eating or drinking, then endodontics or root canal therapy will be necessary. When a large cavity grows into a tooth, it irritates the nerve (or pulp) inside. Sometimes the bacteria will even invade the pulp tissue itself. This causes the pain. Root canal therapy, which takes the nerve out of the tooth, eliminates the pain. Even though you may associate pain with “root canal”, it is usually the therapy that makes the pain go away.
How is endodontics performed?
Your dentist may perform the root canal, or if it is complex, your dentist may refer you to an endodontist for your root canal treatment. Endodontists are specialists that deal exclusively with root canal treatment. Regardless of who does it, your tooth will be anesthetized. A rubber dam isolation will be placed over the tooth, and a small access will be made into the tooth. Then the dentist will use flexible rotary files to remove the nerve tissue and shape the canal for cleaning. Using antibacterial solution as an irrigant, the inside of your tooth will be freed from bacteria and diseased pulp. Then, an inert filling material will be placed down inside the clean canal. This material seals off the tooth from the inside.
What do I do after endodontics?
If the tooth is multi-rooted such as a molar, then a crown will be necessary to strengthen and build up the tooth. Some other smaller front teeth may not need a crown, but only your dentist can determine the need for a crown.
* Courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry