Endodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the internal nerve system of a tooth, known as the root. Years ago, diseased teeth were typically pulled. Today, many teeth can be saved with root-canal therapy. Root-canal therapy is when a dentist removes the infected tissue inside the tooth and cleans the canals of the root. Depending on the tooth, it can have one canal or multiple.

Inside each tooth is a soft tissue consisting of nerve fibers and blood vessels called “pulp.” When the pulp is injured, inflammation causes pressure inside the tooth. The most common causes for this are a cracked or chipped tooth, or a deep cavity. In these cases, bacteria enter the pulp. The tooth may become hypersensitive to cold, which is known as pulpitis. As the damage continues, the nerve begins to die inside the tooth. This is an irreversible outcome, and the root of the tooth becomes infected. The structures surrounding the tooth in the jaw become swollen and painful.

What does root-canal therapy involve? The tooth is thoroughly numbed and isolated from the oral cavity by a thin sheet of rubber. The pulp is accessed through the tooth, and the tissue is removed from the pulp chamber. We use files to clean and shape the canals. The canal system is disinfected, filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha.” A temporary filling is then placed to close the tooth. After the root canal treatment, the tooth will most likely need a crown to restore the lost tooth structure.

Endodontics comprise a good portion of Dr. Vessel’s practice. We provide a range of endodontic procedures, including pulpal therapy for children and adults, as well as molar root canals. Furthermore, as a precaution, we hold appointment openings during office hours, should a patient need an emergency root canal. In some instances, we may refer patients to a specialist if an old root canal needs to be retreated or if the root canal system requires a specialized telescope.

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