Root canals are effective procedures to alleviate the painful experience of tooth decay, all while restoring the infected tooth’s integrity. This is performed through a delicate, efficient, and virtually painless process thanks to the expertise of dental professionals.
A root canal treatment eliminates dangerous bacteria within the foundation of the tooth, saving its function and preventing reinfection in the years ahead. This procedure, while being extremely common, is quite fascinating. To better grasp what it entails, let’s review the circumstances that enable the need for a root canal and the process associated with it.
The Root of the Problem
To gain a proper understanding of the purpose of root canals, we must first comprehend the multiple layers which constitute the structure of the tooth:
Layer 1: Enamel
The enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth, acting as a shell which encases the more sensitive areas below. This tough shell is the most durable material in the entire human anatomy, tasked with shielding the inner layers from harmful bacteria and plaque buildup. A healthy enamel is responsible for granting the teeth their radiant white colour.
Layer 2: Dentin
Underneath the enamel is the layer of dentin, lending itself to form the majority of the tooth’s overall structure. This layer consists primarily of microscopic canals, hollow tubes, and softer materials designed to absorb the pressure created by chewing. When patients have a thinning layer of enamel, the yellow material of the dentin is further exposed- this is why many people struggle with maintaining a white smile.
Layer 3: Pulp
This is the inner core and very foundation of the tooth. It contains vital blood vessels, nerves, and tissues. This layer nourishes the rest of the tooth’s structure, and is extremely sensitive to pain and temperature. An infected pulp is a serious complication, and root canals are utilized to eradicate bacteria and restore the tooth in this circumstance.
Your Tooth’s Restoration
As previously stated, if tooth decay has breached the pulp of the tooth, a root canal is necessary to rectify the pain, limited functionality, and appearance of the infected area. The purpose of a root canal is to excavate the infected pulp of the tooth. Once removed, this allows a dental professional to refill the resulting space with medicated dental materials designed to restore the tooth’s vitality.
Not only does a root canal restore the function of the infected tooth; it reinforces the tooth’s crucial structure, extending its lifespan well into the future while also preserving the surrounding jaw bone and supportive tissues. And whenever possible, the dental professional will salvage what’s left of the natural tooth to spare the patient from less pain and expenses in the years ahead.
Remaining proactive is the best strategy for avoiding root canals in the first place; practicing effective brushing and flossing habits, and most importantly, participating in semiannual routine checkups. However, if you find yourself experiencing any of these sensations, you might be suffering with tooth decay and should immediately visit your dentist’s office:
- Severe toothache pain.
- Red or swollen gums.
- Tooth discolouration, be it black, brown, or grey.
- Heightened sensitivity to temperature.
- An abscess on the gum (similar in appearance to a pimple).
In many cases an abscess may develop if tooth decay has been left unchecked for a substantial amount of time. This is an extremely painful pocket of pus and bacteria which forms below the base of the tooth, and its removal demands a follow-up root canal be performed for the impacted tooth.
What’s the Process?
While under the tutelage of a dental professional, a root canal procedure is effective, efficient, and safe. However, it is still no trivial task and will usually require a patient to visit the office at least twice.
The dental professional must initially perform an x-ray of the infected tooth and its surrounding bone area to ultimately ensure that a root canal is the necessary approach. During this step, you may be prescribed antibiotics to assist in reducing the inflammation and pain immediately following the procedure, especially in the case of an abscess. While some discomfort may be experienced at first, we will take great care to ensure this process is performed smoothly and seamlessly!
Prepping and Removing
Once ready, the targeted area is delicately numbed to ensure your comfort and peace of mind. After giving time for the numbing agent to set in, and ensuring you’re good to go, we will begin to drill an access hole into the infected tooth. This then allows us to excavate the infected pulp, built up bacteria, and other debris within- giving your tooth a fresh start!
Seal it Away
After excavating out the bad bits, and refilling the tooth’s inner layers with some medicated dental materials, the process is complete. Depending on your specific situation, an additional visit may be required. If so, a temporary filling will be applied in the interim period- providing you with some welcomed relief. Once the professional ensures the tooth is thoroughly clean and healthy, it will be permanently sealed!
Remember, root canals may sound intimidating, but if you’re experiencing any serious symptoms-especially an abscess, it’s crucial you receive professional attention! Only with your consent will such a procedure be performed.
If you believe you may be suffering from tooth decay, and are in need of professional care, please do not hesitate to contact a dental professional today!