What’s the Purpose of a Root Canal?

woman sitting in dentist's chair having a procedure
Author: cmcgovern Posted: April 1st, 2021 Category:

A root canal procedure eliminates painful infection and tooth decay for lasting dental health. 

Whenever we recommend a root canal procedure, patients often ask questions like: Is it painful? Won’t it take a long time to recover? Will I need to be put to sleep? 

Fortunately, the answers to these three questions are: no, no, and no!

Many of us recoil in fear at the thought of getting a root canal, but it doesn’t have to be a scary experience. A root canal is a standard procedure that is especially common among older people. Yet the process is safe and suitable for all ages — and can be an important part of maintaining your dental health. 

Let’s discuss what a root canal entails and why you might need one. 

What is a Root Canal?

At the center of each one of your teeth, there is a small cavity filled with pulp. Pulp includes a variety of different components, such as sensitive nerves, blood vessels, and tissue. When you’re a child developing permanent adult teeth, pulp helps your teeth grow. Once your teeth are finished growing, the pulp doesn’t go away — it remains stored at the center of every tooth. 

There are several ways in which pulp improves your dental ecosystem. Pulp is a living tissue, circulating important nutrients and minerals through the roots of your teeth. Pulp also regulates the temperature you perceive at the surface of your teeth, helping you to eat hot and cold foods more comfortably.  

A root canal comes into play when your pulp becomes damaged or infected. Damaged pulp can be a painful experience. Symptoms often include sore gums and jaw, tooth pain, and extreme sensitivity to pressure and temperature. To prevent further damage, a root canal extracts dead or infected pulp, and replaces it with a synthetic filling. 

Why You Might Need a Root Canal

There are many different ways in which your pulp can become damaged or infected. Common reasons people need a root canal include: 

  • Injury to your tooth. If you injure your tooth, it’s important to visit your dentist to avoid getting infected pulp. A break in your enamel can lead exterior bacteria to enter your internal canal, causing infection. 
  • Tooth decay. An untreated cavity can lead to more serious tooth decay, reaching deeper and deeper into your tooth. Once tooth decay breaches your canal, it can infect your pulp in a very painful way. 
  • Deep chips or cracks. As we age, chips and cracks in our teeth become increasingly common. A tooth can become damaged as a result of grinding at night, biting down on something hard, or everyday wear and tear. Whatever the cause, deep chips and cracks can rapidly lead to infected or damaged pulp. 

In many ways, a root canal is similar to a regular cavity filling, but there are some key differences. Compared to an enamel-level filling, root canals address deeper damage within your tooth, and they require your dentist to use a soft temporary filling, followed by a hard permanent filling a few days later. 

Root Canals at Espire

Your pulp can become damaged at any age — and you may not realize it’s happening. To make sure you’re taking care of your dental health, visit your dentist for a check-up every six months. A dentist can quickly examine your dental x-rays to determine whether you need a root canal.

 At Espire, our qualified dentists offer root canal procedures with a focus on each patient’s wellbeing. A root canal doesn’t have to be a scary experience — just contact us at Espire, and schedule an appointment with trusted professionals today.