What Is A Root Canal?
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay; large fillings, a crack, or a chip in the tooth. It also can happen because of trauma to the face.
During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp of the tooth are removed and the inside is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and an abscess may form.
A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has come through the gums. Its only function is sensory — to give the sensation of hot or cold. The absence of a nerve won’t affect how your tooth works.
Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. But the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed.
What Are the Signs That a Root Canal Is Needed?
If you need a root canal, you may notice these signs:
- Tooth sensitivity that lingers, especially to heat or cold
- Sharp pain when chewing or biting
- Pimples on your gums
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Swollen or painful gums
- Deep decay or darkened gums
Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime.
Root Canal Alternatives
The only alternative to a root canal procedure is having the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge, implant, or removable partial denture. These alternatives are more expensive than a root canal procedure and need more treatment time.
Root Canal Prevention
Since some of the reasons the nerve of a tooth and its pulp become inflamed and infected are due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures or large fillings, there are steps you can take to help you avoid a root canal:
- Brush at least twice a day.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Wear a mouth guard to avoid sports-related injury.
- See your dentist regularly.
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