The Misunderstood Root Canal

Root Canal Newton, MA You could say people misunderstand the world of modern art. A red rectangle on a yellow background for $1.34 million? Hmm.

But even modern art isn’t as misunderstood as the root canal. Since Dr. Walk and Dr. Bamel perform root canals in our Cosmetic Dentistry Center offices, maybe it’s time for a little refresher on this valuable dental procedure.

What is a root canal?

The procedure gets is name from the root canal, the chamber inside the root of the tooth that’s made up of the pulp chamber, the main canals, and smaller canals that branch out to connect the main root canals to one another, or to the surface of the root. These chambers are hollow spaces that run through the center of the root and are home to the soft tissues: blood vessels, nerves, and other connective tissues. Together all of this stuff is known as the pulp of the tooth, and provide all the nourishment and sensory responses for the tooth.

What goes wrong with the root canal?

The pulp likes to be left alone, kind of like your teenager. When the pulp is exposed, problems begin. This can come from a crack or chip in a tooth, or if decay has gone through the enamel and the dentin and has entered the pulp. All of these cases will create pain for the patient, and if left untreated, the exposed pulp will become infected and inflamed. Now the pain can be serious when the person talks, bites, eats, or simply closes his or her mouth. When things get to this point, a root canal will be needed just to save the tooth from extraction.

Time for a root canal, actually root canal “therapy”

Although everyone calls it simply having a “root canal,” as you now know from above it is actually treating the infected root canal. Once the root canal becomes infected root canal therapy is necessary to remove the infection and save the areas of the tooth without decay. In the procedure, Dr. Walk or Dr. Bamel follow these steps: drill a hole into the tooth from the top, use tiny instruments to remove all the pulp whether infected or not, decontaminate the now-hollowed out tooth, desensitize all remaining nerve endings, pack the empty tooth with gutta percha, and then seal the tooth and, in most cases, put a crown on top. All of this basically “kills” the tooth, and this concerns people. Won’t it now simply fall out? A tooth with a root canal can actually endure for decades, even for the rest of the patient’s life. The blood vessels are only needed when a tooth is growing during adolescence. Once the tooth is finished growing, it no longer needs any nourishment, so cleaning out the infection with a root canal doesn’t affect it.

Now you’re an expert in root canals. If you have serious pain in a tooth, you may need one. Call us at Cosmetic Dentistry Center, (617) 965-7673, to make an appointment.

Posted in: Root Canals

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