A root canal treatment is the procedure used to repair and save a tooth that has become badly infected or is decaying. Hearing that you are in need of a root canal is certainly unpleasant news, but it is helpful to understand what the procedure entails and why Dr. Nishimura may recommend you get one. While root canals have the reputation of being extremely painful, more people are in pain leading up to the procedure than the actual root canal itself.
Root canals are needed when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the dental pulp is somehow damaged. They are also used to treat the pulp of the tooth that has become inflamed, infected or dead. The nerve and pulp are thoroughly cleaned on the inside of the affected tooth. It is then sealed to prevent further issues.
What Is A Root Canal?
Root canal treatment is also referred to as endodontic treatment. As a root canal treats the pulp of the tooth, it may be beneficial to have an understanding of what that is. Dental pulp is the soft substance in the center of the tooth. This substance includes the nerve, blood vessels and connective tissue. What is referred to as the “pulp chamber” is the hollow part in the center of the tooth where the pulp lies. This chamber continues down canals that reach through the roots of the teeth and into the bone.
As stated above, a root canal treatment consists of the removal of the infected pulp. Once the bad pulp is taken out, the canal(s) is (are) then filled and sealed to prevent any bacteria from entering the canal(s) and pulp chamber.
When Is A Root Canal Needed?
There are a wide variety of factors that may lead to your tooth nerve or dental pulp becoming damaged. With this, there are numerous reasons Dr. Nishimura may recommend you receive a root canal procedure. The following are some of the most common reasons for a root canal:
- Pain – this is the most common symptom that may require you to receive a root canal procedure. This is a very specific type of pain, typically characterized by the tooth becoming extremely sensitive to hot or cold if is still alive. It will also hurt spontaneously. If the tooth is dead, you will experience pain when chewing or when pressure is otherwise placed on the tooth
- Abscess – this forms when the dental pulp dies and a pus pocket is formed around the root of the tooth. It may look like a pimple on the outside of the gums and some people notice a bad taste in the mouth, due to the pus draining from the pimple
- Deep cavity – if decaying has occurred deep into the tooth and reaches the pulp, it will become infected with bacteria and require a root canal. The affected area will either become inflamed or painful, or it may turn into decayed tissue in extreme cases
- Trauma – in the event a tooth experiences great force, it may sever the nerve at the end of the root
- Fracture – a broken, fractured or cracked tooth may require a root canal if it reaches deep into the tooth and hits the pulp
If you are experiencing a sharp pain and heightened sensitivity, it is imperative for you to contact our office immediately and discuss your options. While a root canal procedure can be invasive, it can restore a tooth and enable it to function like any other healthy tooth. A root canal treatment will maintain your natural smile and will allow you to continue to chew efficiently, with normal biting force and sensation. It may also work to protect surrounding teeth from excessive wear or damage.