When you have a toothache, seeing Plano endodontist Dr. Jason Montgomery is important in order to determine the cause of your discomfort. In some cases, there may be a particle of food trapped between two teeth or just below the gum line. Dr. Montgomery can remove the debris, clean the area and treat with a topical antibiotic if necessary.
On the other hand, a toothache can also be caused by an infection that grows deep inside your tooth. When this happens, the pain is usually severe and is often an indication that a root canal must be performed. Also called endodontic treatment, a root canal removes the infection and helps you avoid the spread of infection and the possible need for extraction.
To know why you need a root canal, you must first understand the structure of a tooth. Every tooth is made of three layers. The outside of a tooth is covered in enamel, the body’s hardest substance that is meant to protect the other two layers. Dentin is the middle layer and it is softer and more sensitive. Finally, the core of a tooth consists of nerve, blood and lymph tissue. This area is called the pulp chamber, which branches off to root canals. The root canals allow your tooth to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste and toxins through your bloodstream.
Normally, the pulp chamber and root canals are well guarded from the bacteria that can cause infection. However, if there is extensive decay or a penetrating crack then bacteria can migrate to the center of a tooth. As the infection progresses, there is painful swelling inside your tooth as your body’s natural inflammatory response system fights back. In addition, the tooth begins to die.
By performing a root canal, Dr. Montgomery can save your tooth. Without this treatment, tooth extraction may be necessary to prevent the infection from spreading, which can actually be life threatening.
Once the tooth and surrounding tissue are adequately anesthetized, Dr. Montgomery drills a small hole in your tooth. Through this entry, the Plano dentist inserts special instruments to clear away the infection, remove the contents of the pulp chamber and root canals, and disinfect the area. The vacant space is filled with an inert substance called gutta-percha that prevents infection from invading the tooth again. The chamber is sealed and your tooth is prepared for an eventual dental crown that will strengthen the tooth’s structure. Until a permanent crown can be placed, we’ll set a temporary over your tooth.