Root canals are tiny passageways that branch off from beneath the surface of the tooth, coursing their way vertically inward, until they reach the tip of the root. They are the spaces where the nerves reside. All teeth have between one to four root canals.
Many tooth problems involve infections that spread into the pulp, which is the inner chamber of the tooth containing blood vessels, nerves and other tissues. When the infection becomes worse, it can begin affecting the pulp. A traumatic injury to a tooth can also compromise the pulp, leading to similar problems.
A diseased inner tooth brings a host of problems. Pain and sensitivity are some of the first indications of a problem; furthermore, a spreading infection can cause small pocket of pus to develop that leads to an abscess.
Root canal therapy is a remarkable treatment with a high rate of success. It involves removing the diseased tissue, halting the spread of infection, and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth.
Root canal therapy usually entails one to two visits. During the first visit, a small hole is drilled through the surface of the tooth and into the inner chamber. The diseased tissue is removed, the inner chamber cleansed and disinfected, and the tiny canals reshaped. The cleansed chamber and canals are filled with an elastic material and medication designed to prevent infection. If necessary, the drilled hole is temporarily filled until a permanent seal is made with a crown.
Patients that have successful root canal therapies enjoy the restored dentition that can last almost as long as their healthy original teeth.
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Contrary to jokes about the matter, modern root canal treatment is very similar to having a routine filling and usually can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. You can expect a comfortable experience during and after your appointment.
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensation
- Natural appearance
- Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain
Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last as long as other natural teeth and often for a lifetime.
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