There are several reasons why the nerve of your tooth needs to be removed. One reason could be a large cavity in which the decay invades the nerve or pulp of the tooth. Another reason could be bridge or crown preparation and placement that could have caused nerve damage. Lastly, the nerve could have received trauma that in effect killed the nerve and caused an abscess(infection) at the tip of the root resulting in the removal of the nerve.
Root damage will continue to worsen if it isn't fixed. Regular checkups can help identify problems early, giving you the best chance of avoiding the need and cost of a root canal.
The inside of a tooth is like the inside of a candy tootsie pop. There's a hollow filled area inside every tooth that extends into each of the tooth roots. When this inner tooth area or canal has extensive damage, the damaged or decay must be removed to stop it from continuing to decay and cause tooth loss. Fortunately, once a tooth has grown to its full size the contents of the root's canal are no longer necessary. The hollow area in the root is called a "canal". Each "root canal" is cleaned out, widened, and filled during "root canal" therapy.
This is a short video that explains what is done during a root canal procedure.
At first the dentist deeply numbs the tooth and next creates an entry hole through the top of the crown. The content of the hollow area in the crown and in the " root canal " is removed using specially designed " root canal " files which also widen and flare the " root canal ". Finally, the canal inside the root is filled with a rubber material called gutta percha.
This 10 minute video, featured in the online NY Times, is an actual root canal procedure with the dentist explaining what is being done.
Root canal therapy can be unpredictable. There are times even after appropriate initial treatment that a tooth doesn't settle down. Stronger antibiotics and possibly, anti-inflammatory medications may then be necessary. At the Atlanta Dental Group we prefer to enter a tooth after a patient has been on antibiotics for 3 to 7 days, however, this can not always be done. Swelling from an infected tooth can also complicate " root canal " therapy. Pus around the infected root increases the acid concentration and it may not be able to be numbed well. Again, stronger antibiotics and perhaps, incising and draining the area can help.
About one in twenty root canals requires additional treatment six months after the root canal has been completed. In these cases the tip of one or more roots remains infected even though the " root canal " treatment appears adequate.
Teeth become very brittle after " root canal " therapy and most require restoration with a core build-up and a crown, otherwise the tooth can split. If the split is bad a patient can possibly lose the tooth. This is a lot of dental care for one tooth, so it is much better to avoid needing a " root canal " by visiting the dentist regularly so problems can be taken care of before they become extensive enough to require a root canal.
What happens after treatment?
When your root canal therapy has been completed, we will schedule a follow-up restoration within a few weeks. Your dentist will then decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth. It is rare for endodontic patients to experience complications after routine endodontic treatment or microsurgery. If a problem does occur, however, we are available at all times to respond. To prevent further decay, continue to practice good dental hygiene.
How much will it cost?
The cost associated with this procedure can vary depending on factors such as the severity of damage to the affected tooth and which tooth is affected. In general, endodontic treatment is much less expensive than tooth removal and replacement with an artificial tooth. And, remember that Care Credit® is available to help finance expensive dental procedures that aren't covered by dental insurance. To also reduce costs, don't delay getting a problem checked by your dentist.