Inside your tooth beneath the enamel is an area of soft tissue known as pulp tissue. This pulp tissue contains nerve vessels, lymph vessels, arteries, veins, and connective tissue. The nerve of each tooth enters at the roots of the tooth and connects to the pulp tissue chamber in small canals known as “root canals”. Each tooth has between one and four root canals.
If your pulp tissue becomes infected due to a cracked tooth, a traumatic injury, or a deep cavity, it can die. Infection and death of pulp tissue is very painful because it causes increased blood flow, increased cellular activity, and unrelievable pressure inside the tooth. This pain is intensified when biting down or applying hot and cold to the surface of the tooth.
In this case, a root canal procedure is necessary because the tooth cannot heal on its own. Without treatment, the infection in the pulp tissue will only spread and the pain will get worse. The bone surrounding the tooth will degenerate and the tooth may fall out. The only alternative to a root canal procedure is to extract the tooth.
While an extraction may seem to be cheaper than a root canal treatment, remember that the empty space the extracted tooth will leave behind will require an implant or a bridge. The cost of a root canal actually ends up to be less expensive than the cost of an implant or bridge, and it is always best to keep your original teeth when possible.
The purpose of a root canal procedure is to clean out the dead or damaged pulp and reshape the root canal inside of your tooth. Medication may be applied to the root canal, and then the canal is filled with a rubber filling to keep infection from seeping into the tooth. A crown is placed on top to cap off the rubber filling and restore your tooth’s natural appearance and shape.
Root canal treatments have a 95% success rate and really are your best option if your pulp tissue is infected or dying. To learn more about root canals or to discuss treatment options, contact your dental team.