For many, the idea of a root canal, or endodontic treatment, is an unpleasant thing. Although there is not just one type of experience, the common result we have with most patients undergoing endodontic treatment is good. Before you undergo a root canal procedure, you may first want to learn a little bit more about the procedure.
The first question many have with root canals is “why does this tooth need a root canal?”. To understand this, here is a review of a tooth’s basic anatomy. The tooth is composed of three primary layers. The outermost layer on the visible tooth crown is known as enamel. The enamel is typically one to two millimeters tall. Below tooth enamel is a layer known as dentin which has tiny “pores” or tubules which connect it to the next layer, the dental pulp. The dental pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth and it runs all the way down to the tip or the apex of the tooth’s roots.
The dental pulp is made up of nerve tissue and a blood supply. When a tooth has a lot of damage, decay or has been cracked so that the pulp has been exposed to the bacteria in the mouth, the nerve and blood supply to the tooth may begin to die. As the tooth begins to die, a small infection begins to take hold within and at the tip of the tooth. This can be an uneventful or painful process depending on how quickly the infection spreads and many other factors. Sometimes teeth with no symptoms or pain can become painful and sometimes the pain can subside but the infection will continue without proper treatment.
When professionally diagnosed and performed, a root canal can be a very good and highly successful treatment option. The first step in endodontic treatment is the achievement of profound anesthetic. Next, we open up the top of the tooth so that we can see the dental pulp. The next step is the removal of all the dental pulp and the widening of each of the canals that the dental pulp sits within. Once we have determined that we are within an acceptable distance from the tip of the root, we seal the canal off from any bacteria or foreign substance using a substance used for many years known as “gutta percha”.
After your root canal, it is often necessary to consider placing a crown on the tooth to provide support for the remaining tooth structure. Root canal treated teeth tend to become more brittle following treatment as they no longer have a blood supply. A crown is often required and is standard practice for posterior teeth. To learn more, please contact us to setup an exam.