Root canals get a bad rap, but they’re actually quite common and nothing to be afraid of. A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. The procedure involves removing the damaged tissue from inside the tooth (the pulp), cleaning and disinfecting it, then filling and sealing it. Root canals are usually done in one or two visits to your dentist.
Understanding Your Tooth’s Anatomy
To understand what is a root canal, it helps to know a little bit about your tooth’s anatomy. Your tooth is made up of three main layers:
Enamel: The hard, outermost layer that protects your tooth
Dentin: A softer layer under the enamel that makes up most of your tooth
Pulp: The innermost layer that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue
The pulp is the living tissue inside your tooth. It extends from the crown of your tooth down to the end of your root in your jawbone. The pulp is important during a tooth’s development because it helps form the dentin (the second layer). Once a tooth is fully developed, however, it can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues around it.
When Is a Root Canal Needed?
There are a few reasons why your dentist may recommend a root canal, but the most common is due to decay or an infection. If the decay is left untreated, it will eventually reach the pulp (the innermost layer of your tooth), where it can cause an infection. This happens when bacteria from the decay invade and inflame the pulp. An infected pulp must be removed before it causes more damage to your tooth or spreads to other teeth.
There are a few signs that you may need a root canal, which include:
- Severe toothache that doesn’t go away
- Increasing sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the gums
See your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms. They will be able to determine if a root canal is necessary and can help you feel more comfortable.
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?
During a root canal procedure, your dentist will first numb the area around your tooth so you won’t feel any pain. Next, they will create an opening in your tooth so they can access the pulp. Once they have removed the damaged pulp, they will clean out the inside of your tooth and disinfect it. Finally, they will fill and seal the tooth to prevent further damage.
Sometimes, a root canal may require a crown (or cap) to protect your tooth. Your dentist will let you know if this is necessary during your procedure.
Aftercare and Prevention
After a root canal, it’s important to take care of your teeth to prevent any further damage. Be sure to brush and floss regularly, as well as visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. With proper care, your teeth can last a lifetime!
If you think you may need a root canal or have any other questions about dental care, be sure to contact Brock North Dental. We are always happy to help!