A tooth with decay or a crack or chip can expose the underlying tooth structure to irritants or bacteria. When this happens it is important that the infected tooth material be cleaned out, our dentist in Okemos, Dr. Brian Carlin, DDS will do this by performing an endodontic treatment, a root canal. The core of a tooth is a soft material called the pulp, which is protected by a hard layer that is called the dentin. Above the gumline a layer of enamel surrounds the dentin and below the gumline the dentine is protected by cementum. As long as the protective layers are intact the pulp is protected but when a crack or chip appears due to an injury or decay starts to wear away at the protective layers the pulp is exposed and vulnerable.
When exposed to bacteria and irritants an infection can develop in the pulp, which will cause pain, abscess and eventual tooth loss. The pulp can also be damaged due to a severe injury or gum disease. The treatment for damaged or infected pulp is an endodontic treatment. The procedure involves our doctor drilling to expose the infected tooth roots and then using special miniature tools to clean out all the pulp. Developing teeth need the pulp for nourishment but adult teeth no longer need pulp as they can get nourishment from the surrounding tissue. Once the pulp has been removed from the roots our dentist in Okemos will seal the roots so no further contaminants will get in. A crown will usually be placed on top of the remaining tooth structure to further seal the tooth and make it functional again.
A root canal treatment should be a fairly painless experience due to advances in dental techniques and anesthesia. Our dentist in Okemos will first numb the area with a topical anesthetic and then use a local anesthetic to completely numb the roots of the tooth involved. The patient should only feel some pressure during the treatment but no real pain. This simple endodontic treatment can restore the tooth to its full functionality for a lifetime of chewing. Please see our doctors at least once a year to check your teeth for signs of decay, cracks or chips to prevent further problems.