A root canal might have a reputation for being a particularly unpleasant and painful dental procedure, but it actually is not as bad as you might think. Techniques in modern dentistry have made the procedure easier and less painful. And while it may not be ideal to have any treatments performed, a root canal can be essential to preserving the health of your tooth and avoiding the need for an extraction.
When a cavity gets too advanced, it could reach the inner chamber of the tooth. This is where the blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissue – collectively called the pulp – are located. A root canal treatment accesses this inner chamber, removes the infected and decayed pulp, and replaces it with a material to preserve the structural integrity of the tooth. The inside of the tooth will also be cleaned and disinfected to prevent any infection from occurring again. The tooth usually is then capped with a crown to restore its function for chewing, biting, and appearance.
As previously mentioned, a root canal is an attempt to save a tooth. If decay is not removed from a tooth, either initially by a filling or with a root canal once it’s advanced, it can damage the tooth to the point that extraction is necessary. Though there are several options available to replace lost teeth, dentists will always want to save the natural tooth first. Additionally, failing to treat an infection in the tooth can allow it to spread into the bone or bloodstream to the rest of the body. A root canal, then, protects not just oral health, but overall health as well.