Dental technology has progressed since the old days when the public regarded a root canal with a sense of dread. With so much lore about the procedure entrenched in our culture, Drs. Thomas and Elizabeth Gladnick in Rockville, MD, are happy to dispel those myths and express a singular truth. In short, root canals save teeth. They are the 4th and goal in football, and your dentists are the coaches who ‘go for it,’ rescuing success from the jaws of failure.
So, to truly appreciate what a root canal actually is, you first must understand the anatomy of your tooth.
Your Tooth is Like a Living Iceberg
Most people know that much of an iceberg lies below the water, out of sight and unappreciated. Your tooth is very similar. While what we see above the gums, referred to as the crown, is substantial, the part larger deep within your gums is called the root. This slender structure connects the tooth to the bone and your circulatory system. To keep your tooth alive, nerves and blood vessels run up a narrow corridor, called the canal, to the inner portion of the tooth known as the pulp.
Your tooth’s pulp is spongy tissue where bacteria may grow some form of damage penetrates your tooth enamel. Because the nerve also lives there, the infected pulp is usually the source of tooth pain and inflammation, a condition that threatens the tooth’s very life. When this happens, your dentist will likely suggest root canal therapy.
Why Do I Need a Root Canal?
Several causes may be linked to a required root canal. The most common are:
- Fractured or broken teeth
- One or more deep cavities that are in the pulp
- An abscess or tooth infection
- Another tooth injury with no clear crack or break
Sometimes Dr. Gladnick can address these with fillings to preserve the pulp, but if the damage is too extensive, the best course of action is to open up the tooth through the top of the crown and clear out all the infected pulp. Before this step, your dentist will ensure your tooth and gums have been numbed to avoid discomfort. Remember, the pain associated with a root canal is due to infection, not the procedure. In fact, once the diseased tissue, including the nerve, has been removed and the canal is sealed to prevent future infection, the pain will dissipate. The final step to a root canal is installing an artificial crown which becomes the permanent cap to the remainder of the tooth. Your crown is custom-made and will blend into your surrounding teeth.
If you are experiencing tooth pain that may indicate an infection deep inside, don’t hesitate to contact Gladnick Family Dentistry in Rockville, MD. Now that you know a root canal is a solution rather than the problem, you’ll be happy you made the call.