The pulp of your tooth, which contains the nerve and tiny blood vessels, can become infected. The pulp has a limited ability to heal itself. This infection can be caused by a deep cavity that reaches the center of the tooth causing the pulp to die, a traumatic injury to the tooth, or an extensive preparation (drilling) of the tooth. The extensive preparation may have been done to prepare the tooth for a crown (cap) or other large preparation for a restoration. The pulp may or may not cause a abscessed immediately in these cases. It may take years for a problem to develop. The infected pulp tissue may or may not be painful. It may or may not be visible on a dental radiograph. A tooth with this type of an abscess is not usually extracted because the infection can be treated with endodontic therapy on the tooth. This routine procedure can save the tooth and enable you to avoid the harmful effects of tooth loss. It is successful in more than 90% of the teeth in which the treatment is completed.
Once the endodontic therapy has been completed, the tooth is usually restored with a cast crown or onlay. This is done to protect the tooth and prevent it from fracturing. Failure to follow through with mandatory restorative procedures after endodontic therapy on a previously uncrowned tooth can result in a vertical fracture. If there is very little tooth structure remaining, we may also advise the use of a post and core to further help the tooth retain its final restoration. We will discuss with you the exact type of restoration that you will need.