Even if you are not currently feeling any tooth pain, the dentist might recommend a root canal. Sometimes, tooth infections are painless and can spread slowly through the tooth. To stop the infection and save the tooth from extraction, the dentist may recommend a root canal treatment. The objective is to prolong the lifespan of the natural tooth as much as possible so it can continue to function.
Overview of a root canal
To fully understand the purpose of a root canal treatment, it helps to get a good grasp of the tooth’s anatomy. The first layer of the tooth, known as the enamel, encases another layer called the dentin, which contains soft tissues called the pulp. The tooth pulp comprises the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues, and plays an important role during the eruption in developing the surrounding hard layers of the tooth.
The tooth pulp runs from the tooth crown to the tip of the root. It is important while the tooth is still growing. However, after the tooth fully forms, it can survive independent of the pulp.
A person will need a root canal treatment if the pulp chamber of the tooth becomes infected or inflamed. This may be due to severe tooth decay, tooth cracking and other forms of tooth damages. Without treatment, pulp infection can cause severe pain or cause a tooth abscess, which often necessitates tooth extraction.
There are visible signs that a person needs to undergo root canal surgery. The most obvious one is pain, as well as sensitivity to hot or cold items, pain when chewing or touching, discoloration, swelling and inflammation of the lymph nodes. Patients may also notice pimple-like swelling on their gums. However, these symptoms are not the same for everyone – some people may show no symptoms, yet need to undergo a root canal treatment to prevent additional damage and save the tooth.
How a root canal can save the tooth
During the procedure, the dentist will remove the infected or inflamed pulp material and clean the pulp chamber and root canal properly. After disinfecting the area, the dentist will fill the gap with a filling material called gutta-percha. Afterward, the next step is to cover the affected tooth with a crown to strengthen and protect it from damages.
The tooth will look and feel natural and will continue to function fully for many years to come. Without the recommended root canal treatment, there is a risk that the infection will spread further and may lead to swelling and jawbone infection, which can be detrimental to overall wellbeing. At that point, there will be no other alternative than to remove the tooth.
If a tooth is infected due to severe cavity or damage, the dentist may be able to save your teeth by performing a root canal procedure instead of removing them. The procedure is a relatively simple procedure that is usually completed in one dental appointment. If you are experiencing tooth pain, visit the dental office as soon as possible to have your mouth examined.
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