If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how intense the pain can get. When a tooth is that irritated, chances are it is severely infected. Tooth decay (cavity) always begins in the outermost layer of the tooth, the enamel, and there is usually little to no pain associated with the onset of decay. As the decay progresses, it attacks the next layer which is the dentin. At this point, the tooth may become more sensitive to temperature changes and sweets. As the decay gets closer to the pulp, where the nerve resides, the tooth becomes more sensitive. When it attacks the pulp, then you have a very serious problem. Often times, swelling ensues and an abscess begins to form at the root of the tooth. If left untreated, the infection will progress leading to more tissue damage, pain, damage to the surrounding bone, and loss of the tooth. At its worst, it can have a serious impact on your overall health.
When tooth decay goes untreated and is allowed to reach the pulp, root canal therapy is your only option to save a tooth from extraction. It is a very efficient method of relieving the pain and discomfort of an infected tooth. It also helps relieve the swelling caused by inflammation. The damaged nerve is removed from the tooth and the opening or canal, where the nerve was, is cleaned of all harmful bacteria. Once the canal is cleaned, it is filled with an inert material and sealed to prevent re-infection.