405 Frederick Road, Suite 150, Catonsville, MD 21228
 

 


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Catonsville, MD Dental Office
Angel Dental Care
405 Frederick Road, Suite 150
Catonsville, MD 21228
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Patient Education

The visible, exterior layer of a tooth is called the enamel. Beneath the enamel is another hard layer, called the dentin. The dentin surrounds a small chamber at the center of the tooth that contains the pulp. Tooth pulp is a soft tissue made up of nerves, arteries, and veins. The pulp extends from the pulp chamber down through narrow channels, called the root canals, to the tips of the roots.

The two most common causes of infection in the pulp are deep cavities and fractures or broken teeth. Both expose the pulp to bacteria that live in saliva. These bacteria, which are always present in your mouth, can cause an infection that can kill the pulp. Without treatment, the pus from the infection can eventually gather down at the root tip and pass into the jaw bone, causing an abscess (a pus pocket). The abscess can then damage the bone that surrounds the tooth. The resulting pressure inside the bone and ligaments surrounding the tooth can cause excruciating pain, and left untreated, can even be life threatening.

You may have realized that you had an infected tooth because it was sensitive to hot and cold, was swollen and painful, or had given you a bad taste in your mouth. On the other hand, you may have been completely unaware that you had an infection because you experienced no symptoms at all.

An infected tooth will never heal on its own, and as it gets worse, it will continue to be a source of infection that depletes your immune system, which can affect your entire body. Years ago, your only option would be for us to extract the tooth. But today, we can remove the infection with root canal therapy, and save your tooth. When a tooth becomes infected, it's absolutely necessary to remove the source of infection through root canal therapy. We understand that some patients have anxiety about root canal therapy, but we want to assure you that it will be comfortable for you. Treatment, in fact, is your most comfortable option, because an infected tooth will never heal. The unpleasant consequences of infection only get worse and more painful with time.

Because your comfort is important to us, we make sure that your mouth is thoroughly numb before we begin. Next, we place a rubber dam around the infected tooth to isolate it from the rest of your mouth. The rubber dam keeps the tooth dry and accessible, and prevents anything from falling to the back of your throat.

To get to the infected tooth pulp, we make an opening through the top of the tooth down into the pulp chamber. We use a tiny instrument called a dental file to carefully remove the infected tissue and shape the root canals to receive a filling material. At the end of the first appointment, we place medication in the root canals to kill the bacteria that caused the infection and place a temporary filling or crown to protect the tooth.

During the second appointment, we remove the temporary filling or crown and then clean out the remaining infected tissue. We may need to take X-rays to be sure that all of the infected pulp is removed. We then fill the root canals to complete the procedure.

When the procedure is complete, we'll schedule follow-up appointments to restore your tooth. Depending on your unique situation, we may use any number of techniques to restore the tooth, most of which involve the placing of a crown. When the time comes, we'll work together to decide which restorative procedure best suits your needs.