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Question: Why would someone need a root canal?

Answer: Root Canal therapy (Endodontic treatment) is necessary when the nerve (pulp) becomes inflamed or infected. The most common reasons for inflammation or infection are deep cavities, repeated dental procedures, cracks or chips. Trauma can also cause inflammation and often shows up as discoloration of the tooth. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

Question: What is an Endodontist?

Answer: An Endodontist is a dental specialist dedicated to root canal treatment, relieving oral and facial pain, and saving natural teeth. Many endodontists use a microscope that allows them to see the space within the tooth with great magnification and clarity. This enables them to more thoroughly clean and locate tough-to-find nerve canals within the tooth, and to see cracks that would otherwise go undiagnosed. The microscope is an advanced piece of equipment that far exceeds the capability of dental loupes (binocular-like magnifiers worn by many dentists).

Question: What are the signs and symptoms that Root Canal Therapy is indicated?

Answer: Indications for treatment include prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, spontaneous pain, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling or tenderness of the tooth or adjacent gums. Transient sensitivity to cold may just be due to exposed root surfaces or heavy teeth grinding. If the cold sensation lingers, and radiates up to give you a headache, chances are there has been irreversible damage to the nerve. Sometimes there are no symptoms, and diagnosis is made from a routine x-ray. Other times root canal treatment is recommended as a result of the bacteria from the decay extending into the nerve (pulp) of the tooth.

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