Root canal therapy is an endodontic treatment that repairs the inside of a tooth in an effort to save the tooth itself. A root canal addresses problems with the soft tissue deep inside your tooth, known as the pulp. The pulp lies beneath both a hard layer of dentin and the white, outer enamel of your tooth. The blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues in the pulp are what help create the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development. The pulp runs from the crown of your tooth to the tip of the roots, where it’s anchored to the surrounding tissues. Because your tooth receives nourishment from those surrounding tissues, a fully-mature tooth can survive without its pulp. If, however, the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause severe pain or lead to a bacterial infection known as an abscess. During root canal therapy, your dentist will remove the inflamed or infected pulp, clean and shape the root canal interior, then fill and seal the space. Adding a crown is typically the final step to full restoration and functionality.
Taking care of inflammation or infection inside your tooth has several benefits, the most important of which is saving the tooth itself. Saving your natural tooth with root canal therapy can help protect your other teeth from excessive wear and strain, and allows you to retain your natural smile, normal biting force and sensation, and the ability to chew efficiently. If left untreated, chronic inflammation or a severe abscess won’t go away, and will likely get worse. If you have an abscess that doesn’t rupture or drain on its own, the infection can spread to your jaw, head, or neck. It can even turn into sepsis, a life-threatening infection that affects your entire body.
Some of the signs that you might need root canal therapy include:
While having poor dental hygiene and eating a high-sugar diet both increase your chances of having to undergo a root canal at some point. Cracked teeth, chipped teeth, and teeth that have undergone repeated dental procedures are also more likely to eventually need a root canal. If you’re experiencing ongoing tooth pain, the dentists at Southern Connecticut Dental Group can help you find out why, and possibly save your tooth in the process.