You’ve probably heard of root canal therapy, but you may not know much about it. Here, we’ll explain what a root canal is and the basics of the root canal therapy process.

What Is a Root Canal?

The root canal is sometimes called the pulp canal. It’s in the center of the tooth and is surrounded by three hard materials: dentin, cementum, and enamel, the hardest substance in your body. The root canal is filled with a soft pulp that contains a bundle of blood vessels, connective tissue and the nerve.

What Is Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy is a dental procedure used to repair or save a tooth that is damaged, infected, or decayed. It’s bad when the pulp is infected, but it’s dangerous when the nerve is infected. During the therapy, the infected and decayed material is removed from the tooth. Then, the inside of the canal is cleaned and sealed so that no other bacteria and decay can get back inside.

When Is It Needed?

Bacteria in the mouth create acids that wear away at the tooth’s enamel, your tooth’s first line of defense against damage and infection. If tooth decay is not treated early it progresses through the hard tooth layers and makes its way into the pulp. Root canal therapy is necessary at this point. An untreated infection can cause an abscess which is a pus-filled pocket that is painful and dangerous. Other issues caused by untreated infections include swelling in the neck, face, and head, bone loss at the root of the tooth, and even a lost tooth.

How Is It Performed?

The dentist numbs the affected area before using a small instrument to drill a hole at the top of the infected tooth so that the damaged pulp can be removed. The inner chambers of the tooth are irrigated with an antimicrobial solution to wash away and kill any of the leftover bad bacteria. Once everything is cleaned out, the canal is filled with gutta percha, a rubber-like material. Then to restore strength to your tooth, the hole is closed with a filling or capped with a permanent crown that matches your teeth.

Call us with any other questions you have about root canal therapy!