Root Canal Treatment: The Truth May Just Save Your Tooth

root canal.

Mention the term “root canal” and most people wince: it’s famously analogous for any painful, unpleasant experience. Many, however, have the treatment confused with the condition. The facts tell a different story.

The condition is an infection that has erupted inside a tooth’s structure. Teeth are more than what you see — in fact, the visible portion (the crown) above the gum line is only about one-third of the actual tooth. The roots of the tooth extend far below the gum line into the jaw.

Inside the tooth is a living, bone-like substance called dentin. Coursing through its center is a series of vertical spaces that extend down to the root. These are the root canals, a network of passages that contain soft pulp tissue. At an early age this pulp tissue, which had been responsible for the development of the roots themselves, also provided the tooth’s nerves with indications of temperature extremes. As we grow older, though, this “alert system” becomes less necessary as the dentin becomes thicker and the pulp chamber shrinks.

The pulp tissue can become painfully inflamed because of infection, the result of untreated tooth decay, in-depth dental procedures, or teeth that have been cracked or injured. As the infection grows, it can lead to an abscess, a pocket of infection with serious consequences for the health of the tooth. Our main objective as dentists is to preserve the natural tooth if at all possible. A root canal treatment is one option for achieving that.

Treating an infected root canal involves first cleansing, enlarging and sterilizing the pulp chamber. Once the infected pulp tissue has been removed, the canals are filled and sealed with an inert material like gutta percha, a naturally occurring rubber that is insoluble and compatible with live tissues. A crown is then created and affixed to the tooth to protect it from further infection.

With today’s modern techniques, there is actually very little pain associated with this treatment. In fact, a successful root canal treatment relieves tooth pain. Far from an unpleasant experience, it may just be the right option to save your tooth.

If you would like more information on root canal treatments, please contact us today at (708) 848-2853 to make an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “I’d Rather Have a Root Canal…

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