What Is A Root Canal?


While television and films have certainly done no good for the reputation of the root canal, modern dentistry has allowed the procedure to become simple and virtually painless. Continue reading for more information about the root canal procedure.

Why Are Root Canals Needed?

In order to understand why root canals are needed, it is important to first understand the anatomy of the tooth. The hard outer layer of the tooth is referred to as the enamel. Enamel is mostly made up of calcium phosphate, which is what provides the rock-hard texture. Below the enamel lies the dentin, which is another layer of hard tissue. Beneath the dentin is the pulp, which is the soft center of the tooth that contains the blood vessels and the nerve of the tooth, which is responsible for the sensations felt. When damage or decay occurs in the tooth, it penetrates through the enamel and dentin. In the case that the damage penetrates the pulp and reaches the nerve of the tooth, the patient will experience extreme sensitivity to hot and cold, and in most cases, will feel a sharp pain in the tooth and jaw. If the damage or decay is left untreated, it is possible for an infection to form, as well. A root canal is conducted in order to remove the damaged or infected root of the tooth, as well as to restore the integrity of the tooth as a whole.

The Procedure

During the root canal procedure, the dentist or endodontist will numb the area with local anesthesia. In some cases, the patient will request to be sedated, but in most cases, only simple local anesthesia is needed. The dental professional will then remove all decayed tooth matter. They will then remove the damaged or infected nerve and place a synthetic filling to replace the nerve. The tooth is then filled and built back up using a composite filling material. Since the tooth no longer contains a nerve, it is clinically referred to as a “dead” tooth, so the patient will no longer need to worry about pain in that tooth, but it is still possible for the tooth to develop decay or receive damage. In most cases, the tooth is then recommended to have a crown, sometimes referred to as a “cap” placed over it. This is done both for aesthetic purposes as well to ensure that the work the dentist has done on the tooth with be preserved and protected from further damage and decay. Following the root canal procedure, the patient can expect to feel some soreness, but within a few days the soreness will subside.

If you have been recommended for a root canal and are feeling anxious, no worries. The procedure has advanced to become extremely simple and relatively painless. With the information you learned here, you will have a better understanding of the procedure. Speak with your trusted dental professional at Willow Glen Dental Specialists (WGDS) to discuss what you can expect during your root canal treatment.

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