Root canals are often used as a last-ditch effort to save your tooth. If you have a tooth that has become infected or is decaying, there aren’t too many options left. The infection spreads from the outside where bacteria is festering and moves its way inside the tooth. This area inside the tooth is called the pulp is where all the nerves and blood vessels of your teeth live. If the pulp gets infected, the best way to save your tooth is for the dentist to do a root canal.
A root canal is where your dentist will drill a hole in your tooth and clean out the inside. They will take all the pulp and everything out from the inside and reseal your tooth to help save it. In fact, the inside of your tooth is known as a root canal. It’s where the pulp chamber is. So, getting a root canal done is really opening your tooth so the dentist can reach inside and clean out the pulp chamber.
You really only need your pulp chamber and the nerves that connect to it as your teeth develop and reach maturity. After that happens, the nerves provide no other necessity for your teeth. So, when problems started occurring and infections are spreading, this can cause major pain inside the tooth. The only way to stop the pain (or toothache) is by cleaning out the pulp chamber, including the nerves.
What Damages a Tooth’s Nerves and Pulp?
We already touched on the fact that the pulp within your tooth to get infected or inflamed. This can happen as a result of tooth decay, having many different dental procedures done, having fillings, or even if you chip your tooth. If you suffer trauma to the face, it can also damage your teeth. Over time, these issues can cause many dental problems.
How Does a Root Canal Occur?
Usually, your dentist will perform a root canal. If your dentist is comfortable doing that type of surgery, they might refer you to an endodontist to complete the task. Endodontists are dentists who specialize specifically in the treatment and prevention of issues inside the tooth. In fact, the word endodontist literally means “inside the tooth.” If it’s a complicated procedure, your dentist might refer you to a local endodontist. This is why it’s good to talk to your dentist about all of your options.
The first thing your dentist will do is take an x-ray of your teeth to see what’s going on inside of them. They will be able to tell if there is a major infection or decay going on from the inside. Once the signs of infection in or around the bone are present, a local anesthetic will be applied near the area. This might not need to be done if the nerve is no longer active, but it might still help the patient relax a bit.
Once the area is dry using a dental dam, your dentist will drill a hole into the tooth and remove the pulp area including all the bacteria and decayed tissues inside. Your tooth will literally be cleaned and scraped from the inside out to ensure there’s nothing left in there to cause any more problems. After the cleaning is done, the dentist will then seal it shut. There is a chance that your dentist might want to take some time before sealing the tooth. If there is a major infection going on that they can clean up, they might want to apply medication to help take care of it before sealing.
Once the sealing is done, a crown is placed on the tooth and you’re good to go. The tooth is saved from decay and will be able to be used normally. If your dentist decides not to seal your tooth on the same day, then there might be some type of temporary filling used to close the hole while you wait for the medication to do its job. The crown will effectively strengthen your tooth that has been hollowed out and filled.