The nerves and the blood vessels that run through the root canals of the tooth are called the pulp. Once the tooth has erupted fully from the gums the pulp does not play as vital a role in the health of the tooth. This makes it possible to remove the pulp and still have a healthy tooth.
When the pulp is damaged, it begins to breakdown and bacteria multiplies in the root canals and the pulp chamber creating pus. The dying pulp and bacterial pus create an abscessed tooth. The abscess is the pus-filled area at the end of the tooth’s root. An abscess can:
- Spread swelling to other areas including the face, neck or head
- Cause bone loss around the tip of the root
- Cause drainage problems beyond the root by creating a hole in the side of the tooth draining puss into the gums or through the cheek into the skin
Tooth decay, cracked teeth, wear, trauma to the face and repeated dental procedures and cause the pulp to become irritated, inflamed and infected. This can lead to severe toothaches, sensitivity to temperature, discoloration of the teeth, and swelling and pimples on the gums.
A Root Canal Treatment can be completed in one visit although, it may take additional visits. This depends largely on the degree of damage sustained by the pulp and tooth and the extent of the infection. A root canal treatment cleans the infection and seals the tooth preventing the abscess from forming again.
Root canal treatments are not any more painful than most other treatments. Because the nerve is being worked on during the treatment it is thought to produce more pain. This is not the case, the pain experienced in a root canal treatment comes from the infection. The root canal treatment itself is painless.
The root canal treatment procedure is fairly simple:
- An initial X-ray is taken
- Local anesthetic is applied to the infected area
- An access hole is drilled in the tooth
- The bacterial and the pulp matter is removed
- The tooth is cleaned using root canal files
- The root canal is then medicated and/or filled
- The tooth is sealed
- Further restoration of the tooth, if needed