There is a lot of misunderstanding about root canals. In fact, the very phrase “root canals” does not mean what you may think it means. The dentists at Premier Dental have performed many root canal treatments and can assess the state of your tooth to see if this procedure is necessary.
What is a Root Canal?
Strictly speaking, a root canal is an anatomical portion of a tooth. Each tooth is hollow, and the hollow space contains nerves and blood vessels called the pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue, and the pulp chamber is the hollow space that it fills. The part of the pulp chamber that goes down each root of a tooth is called a root canal because it is long and narrow.
The root canal extends all the way to the tip of each root, where a small hole allow entry to the nerves and blood vessels. These nerves and blood vessels allow you to feel hot and cold sensations in your teeth. They also send painful sensations to your brain when a large cavity or crack is present. The blood vessels keep the tooth hydrated. This hydration is very important because a dried-out, brittle tooth is more likely to crack or break.
In a healthy tooth, root canals are sealed and sterile. If bacteria reaches the nerves and blood vessels in the root canal, it is irreversibly unhealthy.
What is Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal treatment (RCT) is the dental procedure that removes the unhealthy nerves and blood vessels from the root canal space inside a tooth. Root canal treatments allow you to keep a tooth even though the internal tissue is no longer curable. You keep the hard, outer portion of the tooth and lose the soft, inner tissue.
Teeth with RCTs are not “dead”, as many people assume. They do not have nerves and blood vessels on the inside of the tooth, but they do still have them around the tooth. This is why you can still feel pressure on chewing and pain if you have a bite problem or an infection.
There are three important parts of a root canal treatment:
- Access – In the first step, the dentist gains access to the root canal space by creating a hole into the tooth. This requires specific knowledge of where the root canal is within each different tooth.
- Cleaning and Sterilization – The dentist removes all dead or dying soft tissue inside the root canal space using both mechanical instruments and medicine to ensure it is free of all bacteria.
- Sealing and Filling – We can’t leave the space empty. The dentist seals the end of the root and fills in the empty chamber with a specialized root filling material.
Do You Need a Root Canal?
Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location to schedule a visit with our highly skilled dental team. We will assess your specific needs and help you get started on the path to complete oral health.