When Do I Need a Root Canal Treatment?

Every year, more than 15 million RCTs are performed to help save teeth that otherwise would have to be extracted. If you think you might need an RCT but aren’t sure, a quick exam can confirm the need for an RCT. 

Nataly Vilderman, DDS, serves dental patients in the Park Merced, West Portal, and Outer Sunset areas of San Francisco, California. She has extensive experience in general dentistry, including RCT. 

The inside of your tooth

The exterior of your tooth is made of a layer of enamel over a layer of tooth material called dentin. However, the roots of your teeth are hollow. The layer of dentin reaches down inside the tooth-like hollow horns, and these roots are filled with a soft spongy pulp surrounding a nerve. 

The pulp and nerve were important when your teeth were forming and erupting through the gum, but now they’re much like your appendix. If they start hurting, you can get rid of them without an issue — leaving the necessary tooth behind. If your toothache is caused by a root issue, Dr. Vilderman can perform an RCT, and your tooth can be saved. 

Signs of an infected tooth root

The primary sign of an infected tooth is a serious toothache. Chipped/cracked teeth and loose fillings can create niches where bacteria can penetrate the root and infect the pulp. Pus starts forming, and the pressure inside your tooth can rise to unbearable levels.

You may feel one or more of the following symptoms:

It’s important to act quickly if you have an infection. If it spreads and becomes an acute infection, you can lose your tooth

The root canal treatment process

The first step of the RCT process is accessing the root of your tooth. After a small hole is made, the infected pulp is scraped out using dental tools. From there, the inside of the root is sterilized and packed with a material called gutta-percha. Finally, a crown is placed over the tooth to restore it to functionality and prevent further infections. 

After your RCT, you may have mild to moderate pain, but this is nothing to worry about. Dr. Vilderman makes sure you have the pain relief medication you need, and the discomfort subsides within a few days. 

To schedule your appointment at Nataly Vilderman, DDS, call 415-665-7800, or book an appointment online

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