The pulp is the soft internal part of your tooth that is rich in blood vessels and nerves. Many of the most severe toothaches are caused by an infection that has reached the internal structure of the tooth. These infections have direct access to the nerves, and the increased pressure placed on them can make the pain almost unbearable.
If you have been diagnosed with an infection in the pulp of your tooth, the best solution that a dentist can offer is usually a root canal. While we have all heard of expressions that refer to just how terrible a root canal is, the procedure actually alleviates and ends the pain rather than increase it. The bad rap for root canals may be caused by the excruciating pain that these infections cause by themselves.
Understanding Root Canals
In order to really understand what a root canal is, it helps to understand the basic structure of the tooth. The hard outer portion of your tooth is comprised of enamel and dentin. In the center portion of the tooth is a hollow cavity called the pulp chamber. Nerves run into the bone through the roots of your teeth and into the pulp chamber. While the pulp is critical to helping the tooth grow, a mature tooth can survive naturally without it.
If an infection reaches the pulp chamber and affects the nerves and pulp, a root canal is typically the prescribed treatment. A root canal is performed by creating a passageway through the crown, or top of the tooth to access the pulp chamber. The damaged pulp and nerves are removed from the inside of the tooth, and the entire area is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to ensure that there is no existing infection.
Once the area has been sterilized, a special filling material called gutta-percha is placed inside of the tooth. This substance helps to keep the internal portion of the tooth free from infection and helps to maintain the structure of the tooth.
After the tooth has been filled, you may receive a temporary filling or temporary crown. At your next appointment, you will have a permanent crown or other restorative dentistry work that helps to cover the tooth and protect it from future infection.
Why Dentists Save the Tooth
When you picture a dentist in the Wild West, it is likely you’ll conjure images of them holding pliers and yanking teeth out left and right. While that may have been the best dental science had to offer at the time, root canals are a much better option for our patients. Because the tooth no longer needs the pulp or internal nerves to survive, it can be removed, and the rest of the tooth can still be healthy.
If teeth are removed or fall out, they should be replaced. If they are not replaced with an implant or bridge, the neighboring teeth have a tendency to shift or twist. This can eventually lead to much bigger issues. If your dentist can save the existing natural tooth, it also avoids having to complete another surgery to place a dental implant or a bridge. The existing root structure of the tooth helps maintain the strength of the jaw and stops the body from resorbing the surrounding bone.
In addition, maintaining your natural tooth is a less stressful and less costly procedure for you. Dentists generally always prefer to save the existing teeth if they can maintain good dental health.
If you think that you may need a root canal, or have been told that you need a root canal, call our offices today. At Marietta Smile Gallery, your smile is our priority!