Root canals are feared by many people because they believe they are painful. Generally, most people report that the procedure is no more painful than getting a filling placed. It is not the root canal procedure itself that is painful, but the discomfort experienced in the days leading up to it.
What is dental pulp?
There is a soft area within the center of the tooth called the pulp chamber that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. A tooth’s nerve is located in the root or “legs” of the tooth. A root canal runs from the tip of the tooth’s root into the pulp chamber.
The nerve of a tooth is not vital to its health and function after it emerges from the gums. Its only function is sensation – the feeling of hot or cold. It will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth whether the nerve is present or absent. After treatment, however, the tooth becomes less viable and more susceptible to fracture.
Why is it necessary to remove the pulp?
Whenever pulp is damaged, it breaks down, and bacteria become more prevalent in the pulp chamber. Bacteria and other remnants of dying pulp can cause an infection or abscess in the tooth. A tooth abscess is a pus-filled pocket formed at the end of a root.
In addition to an abscess, a root canal infection can cause:
Swelling that may reach other parts of the face, neck, or head
Loss of bone at the tip of the root
Drainage problems that extend outward from the root. It is possible to develop a hole through the side of the tooth, which drains into the gums or the cheeks.
How is the pulp of a tooth damaged?
The pulp of a tooth may become inflamed, infected, or irritated as a result of deep decay, repeated dental procedures, large fillings, cracks in the tooth, or trauma to the face.
What are the signs that you need root canal therapy?
Pain when chewing or applying pressure to the tooth
Hot or cold sensitivity that lasts long after the temperature has been removed.
Tooth discoloration (darkening)
The gums nearby are swollen and tender
A recurring or persistent pimple on the gums
Treatment with a root canal is highly successful; more than 95% of cases are successful. Most teeth saved by root canal therapy last a lifetime. You can schedule an appointment with our Endodontist in Louisville office if you are experiencing problems with one or more teeth that may require treatment. Please reach out to us today.