Because we only see the pearly white enamel of our teeth, it’s sometimes hard to think of them as living tissue. But like all living tissue, parts of your teeth can become damaged or diseased and need treatment.
The part of the tooth that we see above the gumline is called the crown. Inside each crown, there are tiny channels that run the length of the tooth into roots that anchor it in your jawbone. This channel is called the root canal and it contains pulp, the nerves and blood vessels that bring the tooth the vital nutrition it needs to grow and stay healthy.
There are many dental problems that can cause disease in the pulp. Decay under old fillings or a deep cavity can inflame the tooth pulp. Even an injury or blow can damage the pulp and lead to painful infections and abscesses.
Root Canal Treatment
Root canal therapy is a special kind of dentistry that treats diseased pulps. The aim of the treatment is to save the tooth. Before root canal therapy, dentists often had to extract a tooth with an infected pulp. The resulting gap then needed to be filled with a bridge or denture, to maintain proper chewing ability and prevent damage to the adjacent teeth or gums. Now we can simply remove the infected pulp, clean and fill the empty nerve channel and save the tooth. The treated tooth functions normally, although a crown or cap is often required to protect the damaged tooth from fracture, or improve the aesthetics should the tooth discolor after treatment.
The treatment itself may take a few visits to the dental office, and appropriate medications will be provided if we anticipate any discomfort. In most cases, patients experience tremendous relief, as opposed to dental discomfort, as a result of this type of treatment. Root canal treatment costs less than extraction and replacement, but remember not all pulp problems can be treated with this type of procedure. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about root canal therapy next time you come into the office.