Root Canals 101

Root canals either make people think of a barge being towed up the Erie Canal, or the term makes them run away as fast as possible.

But what do you actually know about root canals? We like our patients to be educated at Gentle Dental, so here we go.

What is a root canal?

Root CanalWhile also the name of the procedure, anatomically the root canal is the chamber inside the root of the tooth that’s made up of the pulp chamber, the main canals, and smaller canals that branch out to connect the main root canals to one another, or to the surface of the root. These chambers are hollow spaces that run through the center of the root and are home to the soft tissues: blood vessels, nerves, and other connective tissues. Together all of this stuff is known as the pulp of the tooth, and provide all the nourishment and sensory responses for the tooth.

What goes wrong with the root canal?

Exposure is basically when things start to go wrong in the root canal. This can come from a crack or chip in a tooth, or if an extensive cavity has entered into the pulp. All of these cases will create pain for the patient, and if left untreated, the exposed pulp will become infected and inflamed. Now the pain can be serious when the person talks, bites, eats, or simply closes his or her mouth. When things get to this point, a root canal will be needed just to save the tooth from extraction.

Time for a root canal, actually root canal “therapy”

Although everyone calls it simply having a “root canal,” as you now know from above it is actually treating the infected root canal. Once the root canal becomes infected root canal therapy is necessary to remove the infection and save the areas of the tooth without decay. In the procedure, our team at the Doctors of Dental Medicine follow these steps: drill into the tooth from the top, remove all the pulp whether infected or not, decontaminate the now-hollowed out tooth, desensitize all remaining nerve endings, pack the empty tooth with gutta percha, and then seal the tooth and, in most cases, put a crown on top. All of this basically “kills” the tooth, but it can stay in place the rest of your life and function fine if the damage is caught early enough.

Not you know all about root canals. Call us at (732) 549-5660 to schedule your regular checkup today.

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