Many people are familiar with the term “root canal”, but most have no idea what the procedure actually entails, or what circumstances have to conspire in order for a dentist to recommend a root canal to be done. We have outlined the tell-tale warning signs that a tooth needs a root canal, as well as a detailed account of the steps that are taken to restore the damaged tooth.
Understanding Tooth Structure
To understand what a root canal is and why you may need one, it is important to understand the basic anatomy of the tooth.
The outer layer of the tooth is a hard substance known as enamel. Enamel is essentially a strong protective layer designed to protect the more vulnerable layer beneath, which is known as the dentin. Beneath the dentin is the pulp, which extends into the tooth’s roots and houses the tooth’s nerves.
When decay in the tooth penetrates both the enamel and the dentin and makes its way to the pulp and nerve of the tooth, the individual will experience a great amount of pain. This pain is usually accompanied by infection. One of the most common and tell-tale symptoms associated with a tooth that is in need of a root canal is a sharp pain that is extremely sensitive to hot and cold. This is because the nerve of the tooth has become exposed and is unable to effectively process sensations as it normally does without the protection of the dentin and enamel.
When the damage has reached this point, the only way to restore the tooth is to conduct a root canal procedure, which essentially means removing the nerve from the tooth completely and placing a filling inside the tooth to promote its longevity.
While simply hearing “root canal” is enough to frighten some people, the actual root canal procedure is relatively easy and painless. They have the potential to be time-consuming, and for most people, this is the only complaint that they truly have about their procedure.
To begin, the dentist will take a pre-operative x-ray to document the tooth’s condition prior to treatment. This x-ray will also be used to confirm that the tooth can, in fact, be restored rather than being removed from the mouth.
The dentist will then drill into the tooth structure and remove the nerve from the canal inside the root. The canal is then meticulously cleaned out and irrigated. A synthetic material known as gutta percha is placed inside the canal in place of the nerve, and the tooth is then temporarily sealed and filled with a material known as cavit. The patient will then return in a few weeks to have a permanent filling placed, and to have the tooth prepared for a crown in order to preserve the work that the dentist has completed.
Moving forward with the information you learned here, you will be able to better understand what a root canal is, as well as what you can expect during your visits to have a root canal completed. Speak with your dentist to develop a treatment plan that works best for you.
Click here to learn more about how we treat Root Canals at our office.