Being an endodontist, who has done thousands of root canal treatments, let me share with you my understanding starting with the anatomy of a tooth. This white layer which we all can see daily when we stare into is called the enamel (1). The next layer which does not appear as glossy and homogenous as the enamel is the dentin (2). Note that once this layer is exposed, the tooth has already lost its protective shield and the innermost layer the pulp (3) is at risk of infection. So for simpler understanding when the decay reaches the pulp most often than not we require a root canal.
To a dentist, an aerial view of a root canal space would look like this (4) and that’s the tiny hole through which the infected nerves and blood vessels are removed and filled. Let me clarify, this is an enlarged image through a microscope which I use routinely for my RCT so, in reality, the size of the hole is a lot more minute. A tooth is about a centimeter in size and the root canal opening is roughly 1/100th of that.
If I asked you to stare at that tiny spot for a whole 1 hour or so without moving your eyes off, well that would be a challenge. On the lighter side during this, you can’t think of what's cooking at home, your upcoming holiday or the pretty lady and children waiting for you at home the entire time and the only thing you need to focus on is how to clean this little tube all the way down so that the person on the chair would have a happy tomorrow. That’s what your root canal specialist does during a RCT. Let me sign off hoping that I have given you a clear understanding of why every RCT we do is something special to us and also requires a specialist. The next time you walk into a dentists clinic and tell him “Doc, I need a root canal”, understand that he has a lot more to worry about than you if he has top-classwork and results in his mind.
Article Credits: Dr. Reuben Joseph , MDS (Endodontics) practices at 32 INTACT Dental Clinic, Chennai.