Did you know that teeth are hollow? Under the hard, white layer of enamel is a layer of yellow dentin. Beneath that is a hollow space called the pulp chamber. The pulp chamber contains the living tissues of the tooth including blood, cells, and nerves. These tissues go from the pulp chamber through hollow “canals” in the roots to join the bloodstream. Root canal therapy is necessary when bacteria cause an infection somewhere within the pulp chamber or the root canals. This infection can cause terrible pain and pressure, but even if you haven’t felt any symptoms yet, it’s imperative to remove any infected pulp sooner rather than later.
Your dentist may identify an infected tooth via the symptoms you tell him or her, through an x-ray, or even just visible changes. Often your general dentist can perform the root canal therapy, but in particularly tricky cases, they may refer you to an endodontist — a dentist who has specialized in tooth pulp, nerves, and roots.
Root canal therapy is designed to remove the pulp and nerves while allowing patients to keep the rest of their natural tooth. Your dentist will give you a local anesthetic and place a rubber dam around the infected tooth. This dam helps to keep away saliva which may be contaminated with bacteria. After making a small hole, your dentist will remove the infected tissue. Once all the dying tissue is gone, they fill and seal up your tooth, and add a small filling to hide the hole. Depending on which tooth needed the root canal and how strong the remaining tooth is, you may also need the tooth restored with a crown. However, regardless of whether you need a crown or not, once your dentist has finished, your tooth will look as good as new, and it should feel just like a natural tooth.
If you have any questions or concerns about root canals, contact us today!