Remember when you used to hear people compare dreadful occurrences to a root canal? You don’t hear that as much these days, do you?
In the past, root canals were often the brunt of jokes with a reputation of something to be feared. Somewhere, root canals began to be likened to anything associated with excruciating pain.
Regardless of ‘endodontic’ procedures from decades ago, modern techniques have made root canals rather simple procedures. In the majority of cases, a root canal is no more involved than the procedure for a filling.
Each tooth has a center ‘tunnel,’ which holds it’s nerve, blood vessels and other soft tissues. This tunnel also holds the pulp chamber that extends down into the center of each root.
Root canals are performed when the nerve in the tooth’s pulp becomes infected. The pulp is the interior tunnel of a tooth and holds nerves that carry signals to the brain. It is the pulp is what alerts you when hot or cold has touched the tooth, for instance. It also helps to nourish and hydrate the tooth, giving it resiliency and strength.
Infection in the pulp can occur from a crack or fracture, cavity or other injury to the tooth. This may be apparent when you experience pain or swelling in the area of a tooth. Without treating the infection, the tooth is likely to require removal. A root canal is designed to save the tooth by removing the dead nerve tissue and infection inside a tooth.
Root canals are performed with the area thoroughly numbed. Using a small drill, we make an opening in the top of the tooth to expose the pulp. Special tools are used to remove the infected nerve and clean the tooth’s canal. We then dry the cleaned area and fill it with a special material. Once the tooth is filled, a crown is often placed to prevent further problems with the tooth.
Saving a tooth helps to prevent future problems from occurring to other teeth, including problems with tooth roots. It is those roots that help to maintain jaw bone mass and keep other teeth in position.
If you are told you need a root canal, don’t worry. We promise to make the procedure a comfortable one that may just surprise you!