Before the procedure begins, the area is completely numbed using a local anesthetic. Once the area is numbed, a rubber dam is placed around
the infected tooth to protect the mouth and to prevent anything from falling into the back of the throat.
In order to access the infected tooth pulp, an opening is made through the top of the tooth to get down into the pulp chamber. A tiny instrument,
called a dental file, is then carefully used to clean out the infected tissue and to shape the root canals to receive a filling. X-rays may be done to
ensure that all of the infected pulp is removed before the filling is placed.
After the infected pulp is removed, the restoration is placed. In most case a crown is placed to protect and strengthen the tooth. However, if the
tooth is severely broken down, it may be necessary to start by building up the tooth with a post and core.
There are two common causes of infection: cavities and fractured/broken teeth. Both expose the pulp area to bacteria that live in saliva.
These bacteria can cause an infection that can kill the pulp.
Without treatment, pus from the infected tooth can spread to the root tip and eventually pass out the jaw bone. This can cause an abcess
(a pus pocket) that can damage the bone that surrounds the tooth. The pressure this causes can cause excruciating pain and, left untreated,
can be life threatening. An infected tooth can not heal on its own and will only get worse.
Symptoms tend to vary from patient to patient. Infected teeth may be sensitive to hot or cold, the area may be swollen or painful, or there
may be a bad taste in the mouth. Occasionally there will be no symptoms at all.