A root canal is a type of dental procedure that targets the soft tissue inside your tooth. This soft tissue, called pulp, includes blood vessels and nerves that are housed in a canal-like area in the center of the tooth. Since it’s surrounded by hard enamel, the pulp is normally protected from bacteria. When tooth decay or an injury breaks the enamel, bacteria can travel into the pulp and cause an infection. That’s when you need dental intervention in the form of a root canal because the infected pulp won’t heal on its own.
Many patients discover they need a root canal due to severe pain caused by infected nerves, or when the infection spreads into the gums and forms an abscess. Other signs that you may need a root canal include:
The purpose of a root canal is to remove all of the pulp and infection from inside the tooth and make sure that the canal is completely clean and free of bacteria. Dr. Brayman uses specially designed dental tools that go through the enamel to the pulp and remove the infected soft tissue. After cleaning the canal, it’s filled with a rubbery material that supports the tooth’s structure.
If the tooth is in good shape, a natural-looking filling to cover the small opening may be all you need. However, if the infection developed due to a broken or decayed tooth, a dental crown may be used to restore its strength and appearance.
After a root canal, the restored tooth can last a lifetime, but several issues can arise that may require treatment. For example, the tooth may get chipped or cracked down the road, whether you got a crown or still have the natural tooth. Also, over time, the tooth is more susceptible to damage because it’s no longer living after the pulp is removed.
Good oral hygiene is the best way to be sure the treated tooth lasts a long time. Getting a regular dental checkup every 6 months is essential to be sure plaque and tartar are cleaned away from the tooth and to be sure there aren’t any signs of a problem.
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