TEETH ARE ALIVE, just like every other part of the body. That means they are susceptible to infection. Whenever an infection becomes severe enough, the tainted part has to go or else all the surrounding tissue will be compromised as well and the patient’s life will be at risk! That’s where a root canal comes in.
What Is A Root Canal?
Root canals are a way of getting rid of the infection in a tooth without getting rid of the actual tooth. A root canal won’t save your tooth—by the time you need one, it’s too late for that, but it will allow you to keep it.
A dentist or endodontist will drill into the tooth to reach the infected pulp at its core. Next, the pulp is removed, leaving the tooth hollow. After the space is flushed out, the root is filled with sealer and the crown with cement, and the whole tooth is capped off with an artificial crown. This procedure ensures that no more bacteria can get inside the tooth and minimizes the chances of the tooth breaking.
To get a better understanding of what’s involved in root canal treatment, check out the video below:
When Do You Need One?
The way teeth become infected is through decay, cavities, or cracks from an injury, which means it’s usually an avoidable problem. If you’re brushing and flossing properly, your teeth are unlikely to reach a level of decay that allows bacteria to reach the living dental pulp inside them. However, some people are genetically more susceptible to tooth decay.
Infection can lead to an abscess at the tooth’s root or death of the pulp. If you have tooth decay extensive enough to require a root canal, you’ll probably be experiencing significant pain in and around the infected tooth. With an abscess, there will also be swelling and inflammation. Tooth pain alone isn’t always a sign of an infection, but it’s always worth checking out to make sure.
Other symptoms of tooth infection include:
- Temperature sensitivity
- Sensitivity to pressure (particularly when chewing)
- Swollen lymph nodes under jaw
- Rush of foul-tasting fluid and pain relief if abscess drains
Before You Get A Root Canal…
Don’t fear a root canal, the experience is often surprisingly positive with no pain and less noise than many other dental procedures. We perform many root canals in our practice and send you to a specialist if we are not able to complete the procedure for you in a timely manner. If you decide not a proceed with a root canal you will need to explore all your tooth replacement options including removable partial dentures, porcelain bridges, and dental implants. You would not want to remove the tooth without knowing what replacement option you will pursue, you also would want to be sure to have the socket of the tooth preserved to allow for the tooth replacement. Without socket preservation and tooth replacement, you will loose jaw bone and teeth may shift jeopardizing other teeth and your oral health.
Keep Those Teeth Healthy!
Remember that preventing the problem is always better than needing a solution! Healthy teeth don’t need root canals, so keep brushing twice a day and flossing daily and cut back on sugary drinks so that your teeth will stay healthy!
We love our patients! Thank you for choosing our practice.
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.