A root canal might sound like an intimidating procedure, but it is an extremely useful treatment for saving badly infected teeth. In the very center of the tooth is the pulp which contains nerves and blood vessels. It’s needed as the tooth is developing, but adult teeth can survive without it. If the pulp becomes infected, it will have to be removed to save the natural tooth.
The plaque that naturally forms on the surface of the teeth contains bacteria that are harmful to teeth. It’s cleaned away with regular brushing and flossing, but if these habits become lax, the bacteria are allowed to attack the teeth surface, causing cavities. Dental fillings can usually successfully treat cavities, but if the decay has progressed, it could reach the pulp. Damaged teeth (through either chips or cracks) can also allow bacteria to get inside the tooth.
A root canal is carried out under a local anesthetic to minimize pain and discomfort. The pulp is accessed through the crown of the tooth. It is cleaned out completely and specially shaped to clean out the root canals that are attached to the pulp. Once all the infected tissue has been removed, the chambers are thoroughly disinfected. If the infection was quite severe, the empty canal could then receive antibiotics. The tooth is sealed up and restored with either a filling or a crown.
Root canal therapy, along with dental fillings, can easily be avoided with good oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing, plus regular check-ups, ensure the health of the teeth.