Patients in Aldershot ask, “Why do I need to get a root canal?”
At Dentistry at LaSalle, we provide high quality, comprehensive dental care for patients in and around the Aldershot area. Root canals are one of the procedures that we recommend in order to save a severely damaged tooth. While they have gained a reputation as a painful procedure that should be feared, root canals are a safe and effective way to save the natural tooth and prevent the need for extraction. If you are wondering, “Why do I need to get a root canal?” Allow us to explain. Below, we’ll look at the root canal procedure and their value when performed by experienced professionals like the team at Dentistry at LaSalle.
What is a root canal?
Before we look at the root canal procedure, it’s helpful to explain the basic anatomy of a tooth. While on the surface teeth look like single, solid objects, they are made up of a multiple layers.
- Enamel – Enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth. While enamel is a strong substance that can withstand a certain amount of wear and tear, it can break down over time when not properly cared for.
- Dentin – Dentin is beneath the enamel. It is more porous than enamel.
- Pulp chamber – The innermost portion of the tooth houses the nerves, blood vessels, and other soft tissues. The root canals extend out from the pulp chamber to the bone.
When a cavity on the surface is left untreated, it will eventually continue to break through the layers of the tooth down to the pulp chamber. Once the pulp chamber is infected, the damaged area must be cleaned out and repaired or it will need to be extracted. Root canals are the procedure that allow us to treat the infected/injured tooth and retain as much of its natural structure as possible.
How does dental pulp become infected?
As we mentioned above, the pulp chamber is a fragile area of the tooth made up of the nerves, soft tissues, and blood vessels. In a healthy tooth, the pulp is protected by the dentin and enamel layers. When a tooth is compromised it can lead to damage or infection in the pulp chamber. This can occur for several reasons. Among the most common are:
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Decay – Decay can be caused by many different factors. Eating or drinking too many sugary foods and beverages, improper oral hygiene, and frequent snacking can all cause decay. With routine dental care, most cavities are caught when they are small and easily treated. However, when cavities are left untreated, they will continue to grow larger and impact the layers beneath the enamel. Once a cavity reaches the soft pulp chamber, the chances of infection rise dramatically.
Injury – Broken or cracked teeth can cause problems in the pulp chamber. Anytime the deeper layers of a tooth are exposed, the pulp becomes susceptible to infection. Even the smallest fractures can contribute to pulp injury.
What are some signs that you may need a root canal?
Since the pulp chamber of the tooth is hidden below the enamel and dentin layers, a dentist must use specialized diagnostic tools to determine if the pulp has become infected. Still, there are some common symptoms that could indicate you need a root canal:
Toothache – Pain is the number one sign of a problem. This pain can differ among patients with some experiencing sharp intermittent pain and others experiencing a constant throbbing or dull ache. In certain cases, patients will only experience pain during specific activities such as high impact exercises, or consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages.
Sores – If there are sores in the mouth that do not heal, it can be a sign of infection.
Radiating pain – If the infection leads to an abscess, a patient may experience pain out to the neck, cheek, or ears.
Still curious why you need a root canal therapy? Here’s why
In the end, a tooth that is severely damaged will not heal itself and will continue to cause irreversible damage such as tooth, bone, and tissue loss. During a root canal procedure, the dentist will remove the damaged pulp and clean out the root canals to remove any lingering bacteria. The area will be filled to prevent future infections and a crown will be placed over the tooth to preserve the ability to bite and chew properly.
To learn more about root canals and other restorative dental services, call Dentistry at LaSalle at (905) 481-9078.