The root canal is a general term to describe the mass of tissue and nerves of a tooth called the pulp. The pulp encompasses the blood vessels, nerves, and structures that go from the base of the gums to the beginning of the tooth. While vitally important during your adolescence, the pulp becomes less important as an adult since its main purpose becomes differentiating between the sensations of hot and cold substances.
Whenever an infection or severe decay in a tooth develops, our dentist might decide that proceeding with a root canal procedure would be beneficial for you. While there are many rumors and misconceptions about the procedure itself, you can rest assured that our team at Cooley Smiles performs this serious yet common procedure on a routine basis. One common misconception is that a root canal always requires a dental crown, which simply isn't true.
What Does a Root Canal Procedure Involve?
First and foremost, it must be made clear that the tooth pulp of the affected area will probably have to be removed. The reason for this is because pulp does not have a way to repair itself. Once bacteria from plaque have found its way down there the ends of the roots will become infected and begin to die. The dying of the roots can involve a tremendous amount of pain, difficulty eating, and leak pus into the surrounding tissue. It is, for this reason that our dentists must remove it to prevent further infection.
Our dentists begins by drilling a small hole into the affected tooth. Special tools are then inserted to scrape any bacteria and infection out of the tooth. Then, our dentist will remove the afflicted pulp to ensure it will not cause further inflammation. Once this has been completed, the hole and tooth will be thoroughly cleaned to remove any remaining debris.
Filling the hole will at the time of surgery be at the discretion of our dentists. There are several reasons why he or she might leave the hole open, but one of the main ones is to ensure that further infection does not develop. If one of our dentists does not seal the hole the same day, a protective covering will be put in place until a proper sealant can be used to close the hole for good about a week later.
Is a Root Canal Procedure Painful?
Contrary to popular belief, getting a root canal done is no more painful than getting a dental filling done. Our dentists employ a local anesthetic to ensure no discomfort and routinely monitors you both before and during the procedure to ensure you are comfortable.
Why Can I Not Use Antibiotics Instead of a Root Canal?
Unfortunately, treating an infection of the teeth is different than treating an infection of another part of the body. Usually, antibiotics are delivered via the bloodstream to the infected area. However, an infection of the tooth pulp prevents any blood from getting to the tooth, which cuts off the delivery method. For this reason, an infection of the pulp must only be treated by removing the infected tissues.
While there are many more nuances and factors associated with getting a root canal procedure done, this should give you a general outline of what is done and for what purpose. If you have any questions about if you think you should get a root canal or not, please contact us at (425) 569-4545 and one of our amazing associates of Cooley Smiles will be happy to answer any of your questions about this procedure.