Sometimes, when a tooth has a very deep cavity, there has been an accident involving the mouth, a tooth injury has occurred, or you have deeply cracked tooth, the nerves inside the tooth may be impaired. The nerve may become inflamed or infected, causing a lot of pain.
The pulp, which contains the nerves, can swell up around the tooth. This is called an abscess and indicates an infection. Symptoms other than swelling might include a change in the color of the tooth, increased sensitivity of the tooth, and pus coming from the abscessed area.
This type of damage requires a special treatment called a root canal.
A root canal is a special procedure used to treat the infection, inflammation, or damage in the nerve of the tooth. It might be performed by your regular dentist or by a specialist called an endodontist. It requires a special appointment and course of action.
Before the procedure begins, the dentist will X-ray the part of the mouth that is affected. This allows visualization of the inside of the tooth, the root, the abscess (if there is one), and the extent of the decay or damage. This also helps the dentist to plan the procedure and prepare to restore the tooth.
Before beginning, an anesthetic will be administered. This will help take away the pain of the infected or inflamed tooth and also keep you comfortable during the root canal procedure. Once you are numb and ready, the tooth will be blocked off with a rubber dam. This is a barrier to keep moisture from reaching the tooth. The dentist will then use the drill, just like with a cavity, to create a hole for removing the decay , the bacteria, any debris that has built up as a result of the infection, and the tooth pulp itself. Throughout this process, the canals of the tooth are cleaned to make sure everything is spotless before continuing.
If the cause of the problem is infection, your dentist might use a medication inserted directly into the tooth to help it heal. A temporary filling will be placed over the tooth to keep any new fragments or bits of food from becoming caught in the tooth while the infection is healing. This means that another appointment is necessary to complete the permanent restoration of the tooth.
The next part of the treatment includes filling the area of the tooth that was previously filled with pulp. A special sealing paste and a material called gutta percha are used to make sure the area is full and protected. The hole that was drilled to access the pulp is closed with a filling. If the tooth is too damaged to repair with a simple filling, a crown may be required to support the tooth and make it fully functional.
The mouth should feel much better at this point and any minor pain may be treated with ibuprofen.