What is a Root Canal?

Featured / Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Root Canal. These are probably the two most dreaded words a patient will hear from their dentist. While most people cringe when they hear of the procedure, the pain of not having a needed root canal can far outweigh any pain associated with the procedure itself. In fact, the purpose of the root canal is to save your tooth. Saving your teeth means maintaining a natural smile and having your teeth function properly.

A root canal simply involves removing inflamed or infected pulp from the inner chamber of the tooth. Beneath the enamel and dentin (the inner layer) of your tooth is the pulp—a combination of nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissue. The pulp of your tooth can become infected or inflamed due to various reasons including decay, excessive dental procedures, a cracked tooth, or trauma. If left untreated infection can lead to an abscess, which can be even more painful.

During a root canal, the infected or inflamed pulp is completely removed and the inner tooth is cleaned to remove bacteria. Then the pulp is replaced with a filling made of a soft rubbery material. Finally, the tooth is crowned. This process has three main benefits. It not only saves the tooth, but also helps preserve the patient’s natural smile, and allows them to chew normally, with the same pressure and without pain.

As for root canals being a painful, exaggerated process, that is a thing of the past. In most cases a root canal can be treated in 1 or 2 visits. The recovery process can be compared to that of a regular filling. Patients can expect a tooth saved by a root canal procedure will remain healthy with proper care, possibly for a lifetime. So the next time you hear those two words from a friend or your dentist, don’t think of pain, think of a great save.