Two words that strike fear into most Americans’ hearts: Root canal. So, what is a root canal? And are they really that scary?
The roots of your teeth have narrow openings (canals) inside that contain blood vessels and nerve fibers (the tooth pulp) that provide life and sensation to your teeth. When a tooth is badly decayed, infected or traumatized, the damaged blood vessels and nerves in the root canal start to die and can cause pain. Root canal (or endodontic) treatment is actually a good thing, in that it helps save your teeth for a lifetime.
A root canal treatment removes the damaged tooth pulp, cleans and disinfects the canal and replaces the pulp with a filling material. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth may become infected causing more serious issues, including tooth loss.
The tooth pulp is critical in helping form a new tooth. Once the tooth is erupted into the mouth and the root is fully formed, the tooth pulp is not vital to a tooth’s ongoing function. The nerves serve to detect hot and cold temperatures, but don’t have much impact on the function of the tooth. So, the removal doesn’t really impact the tooth’s job much, nor the tooth’s normal biting force or sensation.
Millions of root canal treatments are performed every year, relieving much pain and suffering. Nowadays, root canal treatments are fairly painless and routine and are often completed in one appointment.
If you’re experiencing tooth pain and you are worried about needing a root canal treatment, visit with your dentist and tell him or her all about it.
Now, that’s not so scary. Right?