South Austin Dentist: Endodontics and Root Canal Therapy

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry dedicated to dental pulp. Pulp is the soft tissue inside the crown of a tooth. Dental pulp produces dentin, sends nutrients to tissue, and senses pressure and extreme temperature through a network of nerves and blood vessels. The pulp is housed in the root canal.

What is endodontic therapy?

Endodontics typically addresses diseases that affect dental pulp. Endodontic therapy, better known as root canal therapy, treats infected dental pulp. Root canal therapy removes dental pulp when it becomes diseased in order to prevent tooth loss. After the infected pulp has been excised, the root canal is shaped and sterilized, and filled with dental materials that protect the tooth from further infection.

When is root canal therapy necessary?

Root canal therapy is necessary when tooth pulp can no longer repair itself and dies. This often occurs when bacteria seep into the root canal through a deep cavity, loose filling, or crack in the tooth. Once the bacteria enter the root canal, they begin to destroy pulp. The tooth will become highly sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Patients may also feel intense pain when chewing and a continual ache in their tooth.

What happens if root canal therapy is not performed?

Without root canal therapy, the infection of the pulp will then spread to other areas of the tooth. Specifically, the infection will move to the root. Once this happens, the tooth will eventually fall out, without treatment. Root canal therapy is a better alternative to having the tooth pulled because it preserves tooth structure. Patients will no longer experience pain in that tooth because the network of nerves that sends signals to the brain is no longer there.

How successful is endodontic therapy?

Root canals have a 95% success rate, although there are sometimes complications. New infections can occur if the inner sealing eventually deteriorates or if there are undetected cracks in the root of a tooth. Many teeth that undergo root canal therapy last a lifetime, however.

Schedule an Appointment

If you have more questions about endodontics and root canal therapy, please call our South Austin dentist office at (512) 448-3131 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Van Wicklen. We serve patients in the 78704 area.