Petaluma, CA dentist explains how root canal therapy saves your natural tooth

Most people are familiar with cavities, which are decay that occurs in the outer layers of the tooth. But did you know that decay and infection can affect any portion of the tooth, including the inner contents? When that occurs, root canal therapy is often the only way to save the tooth and prevent the need for the time-consuming and costly process of extraction and tooth replacement. Dr. Yvonne Szyperski, dentist at North Bay Smiles in Petaluma, CA, explains what root canal therapy is and how it can save decaying or infected teeth. 

Root canal therapy explained

A tooth is composed of several layers. The enamel is the hard outer layer that is visible and serves as the first line of defense in protecting the tooth, and beneath it is a layer called dentin that communicates with the nerve in the tooth. The innermost layer is called the pulp chamber, which contains the pain- and temperature-sensing nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues. When this area becomes infected or decayed due to traumatic injury, a cavity that has progressed to the inner portion of the tooth, or an overgrowth of bacteria, it can cause a variety of negative symptoms such as:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • An abscess on the gums and or below the root

When this happens, root canal therapy can save a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted and replaced. While dental technologies have rapidly evolved over the last several years and today’s tooth replacement options are better than ever before, there is simply no substitute for a natural tooth and saving it with root canal therapy is typically preferable to an extraction.

What to expect

At North Bay Smiles, Dr. Szyperski will perform a thorough evaluation of your teeth and symptoms to determine the underlying cause of your pain. If root canal therapy is needed, she may refer you to a local endodontist who will perform the treatment. Many patients are worried that root canal therapy will be very painful, but the reality is that it is a pain-relieving treatment and will help you get back to your normal life pain-free in just a short amount of time.

To perform a root canal, the area is first numbed using modern dental anesthetics so you are comfortable during the treatment. Then, after placing a rubber dam to keep the tooth dry and isolated, a small hole is made in the crown of the tooth and the inner contents of the pulp chamber are removed, including the pulp, nerve, blood vessels, bacteria, and any decay that is present. The pulp chamber is then sanitized  and the tooth is sealed off with either a temporary or permanent filling. In some cases, patients need to return about a week later to have the inner portion of the tooth filled and then a dental crown is placed on top to protect the tooth from future damage or breakage and restore its function in your smile.

If you are in pain, we can help! Call North Bay Smiles today to schedule an appointment today at (707) 306-8001. Our office serves patients in the Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Santa Rosa, Novato, and surrounding areas and is always welcoming new patients.