Once the inner pulp layer of a tooth has become infected, your choices are limited.  You could choose to:

  • Extract the tooth
  • Delay treatment
  • Save the tooth with root canal therapy

Extracting the tooth is only a short-term solution because teeth need each other for support.  While an extraction does remove the infection, a missing tooth sets off a chain reaction of shifting teeth, receding jawbone, increased risk for decay and gum disease, and other dental problems.

Delaying treatment is a risky choice; an infected tooth will never heal on its own.  As the infection spreads down the tooth and into your jawbone, the pain can become excruciating.  The infection also can become more wide-spread and potentially become systemic and threaten your life.

Root Canal Therapy

When the pulp layer of a tooth becomes infected, it is necessary to remove the infection with root canal therapy.  It is a generally comfortable procedure that saves your tooth and gives you back your healthy smile.

The procedure starts by  Dr. Julie Pruneski numbing the area to ensure you are completely comfortable.  To get at the infected tooth pulp, we make an opening through the top of the tooth and down into the pulp chamber.  We then use a tiny dental file to carefully clean out the infected tissue and shape the root canals to receive a filling material.  Finally, we begin the steps necessary to restore the tooth.  We will most likely recommend placing a crown to protect and strengthen your tooth.  If the tooth is severely broken down, it will likely be necessary to start by building up the tooth with a post and core.

When the root canals of your tooth are complicated, Dr. Julie Pruneski may refer you to an Endodontist that specializes in problems inside the tooth.

Root Canal Retreatment

In some cases, root canal therapy doesn't completely heal an infected tooth, and a root canal retreatment becomes necessary.  There are several reasons why the infected tooth may not have healed completely.

  • The tooth may have canals that are difficult to clean because they are narrow, curved, or branched.
  • The tooth may have extra root canals that were not discovered the first time.
  • Tooth decay or a fracture can expose the filling material in the roots to bacteria, causing a new infection.

To complete this procedure, Dr. Julie Pruneski will most likely refer you to an Endodontist that specializes in root canal retreatment.