What is a Root Canal?

root canal

The Infamous Root Canal: the most notoriously detested dental procedure in America – but why? Sure, everyone has heard of a root canal, but does everyone really know what a root canal is?

In short, a root canal is the procedure used to repair a tooth that is badly damaged from decay or infection. Our teeth have layers. Underneath the outer-most layer of hard enamel, is another hard layer called dentin. Underneath the dentin is a soft layer composed of blood vessels, nerves and tissue. When the soft layer, aka Pulp, is damaged it starts breaking down and a bacterium begins to spread throughout the inside of the tooth, leading to infection.

What causes infection in the root canal of a tooth?

The pulp of a tooth can become irritated and/or infected from excessive or deep decay, a cracked tooth or as the result of an injury to the face.

Symptoms of an infected root canal are:

  • Toothache
  • Pain when applying pressure
  • Darkening of a tooth
  • Swollen gums
  • A puss pocket on the gums
  • Prolonged sensitivity to temperature

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should contact your dentist for a consultation. An untreated root canal infection can lead to swelling, an abscessed tooth, loss of bone or teeth and can even lead to life threatening conditions.

What does a root canal procedure entail?

A root canal procedure involves drilling a small hole in the crown of the tooth, removing the bacteria and pulp, disinfecting the interior of the tooth, and filling the pulp cavity with gutta-percha (a material similar to rubber). A temporary filling is placed to seal the hole and a permanent restoration will be placed over the tooth at a later date, to protect it and restore the permanent, full-function of your tooth.

If you would like to know more about root canals, or would like to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at www.americasfamilydental.com or contact one of our two convenient locations in Spring and Tomball.

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