A root canal is a procedure to remove the soft tissue inside a tooth. The soft tissue, or pulp, holds blood vessels and nerves in a canal-like area in the center of the tooth. The hard tooth enamel normally protects the pulp, but when it’s injured or decayed, bacteria can get through the enamel and cause an infection in the pulp.
Once the pulp gets infected, the solution is a root canal to remove the pulp and clean out the bacteria. In fact, a root canal is the best way to save the natural tooth.
Since the nerves reside in the pulp, this type of infection is often incredibly painful. If the infection isn’t treated, it spreads beyond the tooth and may form an abscess, which is also severely painful. Pain is the best sign that you may need a root canal -- or at the very least you should schedule a dental exam. However, there are other signs of problems:
A specially-designed, very narrow dental tool is used to go through the enamel to reach the pulp. The infected pulp is removed, then the root canal is cleaned and filled with material that will support the structure of the tooth.
If your tooth isn’t broken or cracked, the small opening caused by the tool may simply be filled. If the tooth was damaged before the root canal, you may need a crown to restore the tooth and maintain its strength and appearance.
The restored tooth can last the rest of your life unless other dental issues develop. After the blood vessels and nerves are removed, the tooth is no longer alive, which means it could become brittle. If the tooth cracks or breaks, it becomes susceptible to decay. Regular brushing and flossing, and getting a dental checkup every six months, go a long way toward maintaining the longevity of your tooth after a root canal.
At About Smiles, we are in-network with most major insurance plans. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.
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