Understanding Your Root Canal

We find that most of our patients have more curiosity in this area than in any other procedure we do. To satisfy your need to know, and to dispel any myths that may exist, let us give you a few brief facts.

WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL: Each tooth has one or more roots, and inside each root lies a small tunnel called the "root canal". Inside this canal there are nerves and blood vessels which make up the living part of the tooth we call the pulp.

HEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM: If germs get inside the pulp through a deep cavity or a crack in the tooth, the pulp gets infected. Sometimes the same infection arises after a tooth receives a severe blow or continually hits too hard when you chew. When properly performed, root canal therapy removes the pulp from the tooth, kills the remaining germs, and refills the empty canal with a rubbery material called gutta percha or root canal sealer. Only in rare instances does the tooth need to be removed to conquer the infection.

HOW IS THE INFECTED PULP REMOVED: The pulp is removed through an opening in the chewing surface of the tooth, using tiny instruments called files. Infected debris is flushed out with germicidal solution. If any evidence of infection remains, it is necessary to close the opening in the tooth for a few days before completing the root canal treatment. All this is accomplished while your tooth is "numb" from the use of anesthetic. There will be no feeling at all during the treatment. The reason the tooth may be sore after the appointment is that the area around the tooth is inflamed due to the infection.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE ROOT CANAL: Remember those blood vessels that reside in a healthy pulp? They are a source of continual moisture which your tooth no longer has after root canal therapy. After the artery, vein and nerve are removed from the tooth, the tooth is technically "dead". Without moisture, your tooth becomes brittle and may fracture. That is why all teeth with root canals need a "Crown" and sometimes a "Post Build-up". A Build-up is where a post is placed down the canal of the root and then a filling is placed around it. This helps distribute the forces on the tooth and helps it avoid fractures. The Crown acts to cover the tooth, holding the tooth together, preventing future loss from breakage. The Crown and the Build-up are each separate procedures with separate fees and are not included in the fee for the root canal. After the root canal and crown, the tooth will feel fine and look natural and should be used as you would any ordinary natural tooth

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