Has your dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in treating the insides of teeth) told you that you need root canal treatment? If so, you're not alone. Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal, or endodontic treatment.
Remember, root canal treatment doesn't cause pain, it relieves it. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and helps to grow the root of your tooth during development. In a fully developed tooth, the tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
Contrary to jokes about the matter, modern endodontic treatment is very similar to having a routine filling and usually can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. You can expect a comfortable experience during and after your appointment.
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensation
- Natural appearance
- Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain
Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp (soft tissue inside your teeth containing blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue) becomes inflamed or diseased.
During root canal treatment, your dentist or endodontist removes the diseased pulp. The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are then cleaned and sealed. If the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result, and your tooth may have to be removed.
Causes of an infected pulp could include:
- a deep cavity
- repeated dental procedure
- a cracked or broken tooth injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip).
If you continue to care for your teeth and gums your restored tooth could last a lifetime. However, regular checkups are necessary; a tooth without its nerve can still develop cavities or gum disease. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile.