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Millions of teeth are treated and saved every year with root canal therapy. It can not only relieve tooth pain but save your smile. Let’s take a moment and examine your tooth, and how a root canal can help.

When you take a closer look at a tooth, this is what you will find: the hard, white enamel, which is the outside, visible part of the tooth. Underneath the white enamel is another hard layer, known as the dentin. Beneath the dentin is a soft tissue, or pulp, which has blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.

Once a tooth has fully developed, the tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth is nourished by the tissues around it. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, whether because of tooth decay, cracks in the tooth, repeated dental procedures on the tooth or trauma to the tooth, a root canal may be necessary.

During a root canal, the dentist or endodontist numbs the tooth. An opening is then made through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber. The infected pulp is removed and the inside is cleaned and disinfected. After that the tooth is filled and sealed with a rubbery material to keep the canals free of infection and contamination. Finally, the tooth is restored with a dental crown (or cap) to protect it. This allows the tooth to function like your regular teeth.

The pulp, or nerve tissue, needs to removed because as it breaks down, bacteria multiplies in the pulp chamber. This, along with decayed debris can cause an infection, known as abscessed tooth. This is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the tooth’s root. This can cause swelling that can spread to the face, neck or head. It can cause bone loss around the tip of the tooth, and a hole can develop through the side of the tooth where it drains into the gums or out through the skin of the face or under the jaw line.

The procedure can be done in one or two visits, and usually soreness lasts for a day or two and after that the tooth starts to get comfortable.

How do you know if you need a root canal?

–You may have severe tooth pain when you chew or apply pressure
–You may have prolonged tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
–Your tooth may become discolored
–You may have swelling and tenderness in the surrounding gums
–You may have a recurring pimple on the gums

If you have any of these symptoms, or have not seen your dentist in some time, now may be a good time to have your teeth taken care of. Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns, and bring back your health smile!