Root canal therapy is used to restore a tooth whose pulp has been damaged, usually by infection. The procedure involves the removal of the pulp, which is the soft, living material inside the tooth that houses the dental nerve. Once the pulp is gone, the empty tooth is cleaned and filled before being capped with a dental crown. A root canal can be performed on any of your teeth. However, the following questions and answers will focus on a root canal for a bicuspid:
What is a bicuspid?
Bicuspids, which are commonly called "premolars," are the two teeth that lie just behind your incisors. There are four in your upper jaw and four in your lower jaw.
How do I know that my bicuspid needs a root canal?
Your dentist will confirm your need for a root canal with an x-ray. However, there are signs or symptoms that can indicate that your bicuspid is infected and may need root canal therapy. Here are several:
- Throbbing pain emanating from your tooth
- An abscess on the gums that border the affected bicuspid
- Extreme tooth sensitivity to heat and cold
- Yellowish or brownish fluid leaking from the gums adjacent to the tooth
- Swelling of the gums
- Darkening of the bicuspid
How many visits are required to complete the root canal therapy for a bicuspid?
Two visits are usually required. During the first visit, the contents of the tooth are evacuated, and a sedative filling may be applied. A sedative filling is primarily a mixture of clove oil and zinc oxide. It is used to soothe the tooth and facilitate healing. In addition, the mold for the dental crown is made.
During the second visit, the permanent filling and the final dental crown is applied to complete the restorative process.
Will anesthesia be required?
A localized anesthetic is usually injected into the gums that border the infected bicuspid. However, if you suffer from severe anxiety about the root canal procedure, your dentist may also prescribe an oral sedative, such as Valium, to help you feel more comfortable during the surgery.
How long does a root canal on a bicuspid last?
Root canal therapy on a bicuspid is designed to last a lifetime. However, a root canal may not last as long if the placement of a permanent filling and crown are delayed. If the tooth is quickly permanently protected, there is less chance of infection. In addition, a root canal that is performed after an infection spreads to the jaw bone is less likely to last.
If you believe that you may need root canal therapy to restore a bicuspid, make an appointment with a professional dentist like those at Michels & Gauquie Cosmetic and Family Dentistry today. The sooner you receive treatment, the greater the likelihood that your tooth will be salvageable.