What to Know About Root Canals

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Chances are, you’ve heard of a root canal. It’s also likely that you think of it as a terribly painful dental procedure. The truth is, it’s not as horrible as it’s thought to be and actually aims to save teeth.

What is a root canal?
A root canal treatment is a dental procedure that treats a tooth that has been severely infected. The inside of the tooth contains the pulp, which consists of blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissue. Mild infection or decay can be treated with a dental filling, but when it threatens the pulp, a root canal becomes necessary. During the procedure, the pulp is removed. The inner chamber of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, then filled again with a biosynthetic material to preserve the structure of the tooth. The tooth is then sealed up and can be covered with a crown to restore functionality.

If the infection is left untreated, the condition could become more serious and spread to the gums. The tooth at that point will have to be removed to prevent even further damage. A root canal, then, saves the natural tooth.

What causes the need for a root canal?
There are several reasons the tooth pulp could become infected. These include severe tooth decay, trauma to the tooth, recent or multiple dental procedures in the same area, large fillings, and cracks or chips in the teeth.

Signs You Need a Root Canal Treatment
Symptoms that a root canal will be needed include:

Serious tooth pain when eating, or when pressure is applied to that area
Tooth sensitivity
A small bump (similar to a pimple) on the gums near the area of tooth pain
Darkening of the tooth
Tenderness or swelling in the gums near the area of pain
How painful is a root canal?
Local anesthesia is used during a root canal treatment, so no pain should be experienced. If you are a particularly anxious patient, you can talk to your dentist about other forms of anesthesia as well. Most people report that the procedure is no more painful than getting a filling.

Not all occurrences of tooth pain mean that a root canal will be needed. If you are having any problems with your teeth, be sure to contact your dentist to have it examined as soon as possible.

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