When you have a tooth that’s affected by a cavity, filling the cavity with tooth-colored composite resin can be the most conservative way to treat it. However, this is only effective when a cavity affects the main, visible part of your tooth, known as the crown. In more severe cases, the decay may affect much more of your tooth, including the inner pulp chamber and the tissues that rest inside of it. Instead of a filling, we may recommend saving the tooth by performing root canal therapy, which involves removing the decay from the inner structures of your tooth, and not just its visible part.

The part of your tooth you don’t see

The main part of your tooth structure is known as the crown, and makes up the visible portion of the tooth that rests above your gums. The part of your tooth that you don’t see, but is equally important to your tooth’s health and integrity, is the root that extends underneath the gum tissues and into the jawbone structure. The root of your tooth does more than just support the crown, however. Inside of the tooth root is a hollow canal through which the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels travel from the pulp into the jawbone. When tooth decay becomes severe enough, it can reach these tissues and infect the tooth’s pulp and inner root canal.

Treating infected root canals

When most cavities are detected and treated, they’re still localized within the tooth’s dentin (the bulk of the tooth’s crown). This makes filling the cavity and stopping the decay more simple. However, accessing and cleaning the inner structures of your tooth can be more complex than filling in a portion of its dentin. To complete root canal treatment, we’ll carefully access and clean the inner structures of the tooth, taking care to minimize the alteration of your healthy, natural tooth structure.

Protecting the tooth afterward

Once the infection has been removed from the inner structures and root canal of your tooth, the infection will stop progressing, and your remaining healthy tooth structure can now be restored. In many cases, the most fitting restoration is a dental crown, which can be custom-designed to fit over the tooth and replicate its entire crown structure. A dental crown can protect the tooth from damage under your bite’s pressure, helping you preserve the tooth and avoid having to extract it in the future.

Learn more about root canal therapy

When tooth decay becomes severe, root canal therapy can be the best solution for removing the infection and saving what’s left of your healthy tooth structure. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling Silver Smiles in Silver City, NM, today at (575) 534-3699.