Have you been told you that you need root canal treatment? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal, or endodontic, treatment.
To understand how a root canal works, it helps to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the dental pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue and is responsible for tooth formation during development. The pulp chamber is the hollow part in the center of the tooth that contains the pulp, and it continues down the canals that extend through the roots and into the surrounding bone. Most roots contain one canal but some root can have more than one canal.
Endodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals specifically with the tooth pulp and tissues surrounding the root of the tooth. Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The cause of inflammation or infection can vary such as: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, defective crown margins, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Also, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no noticeable chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause a great deal of pain or lead to an abscess.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed to prevent bacteria from re-entering the canal system. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Contrary to the bad reputation regarding root canals, modern root canal treatment is similar to having a filling and usually can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth. You can expect a comfortable experience during and after your appointment.
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
- The ability to chew with normal biting force and sensation
- Protects other teeth from unnecessary wear
Endodontic treatment helps you keep your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for future dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime
Source: American Association of Endodontists