If you have a tooth with a lot of decay, then your dentist might have told you that you need a root canal. You might be apprehensive about this procedure and a bit worried about the effect that the root canal will have you on your life. To help assuage your fears, here is an introduction to root canals:
A Bit of Background
To understand what a root canal is, you should first know that a tooth is composed of mainly three layers.
- The surface of the tooth is known as the enamel, and is the layer that you usually see if you look at a tooth. It is pearly white if it isn't stained and is pretty hard and durable. However, it is common for the enamel to get worn down over time, since teeth are often exposed to a lot of wear and tear. When the enamel wears down, then that allows infections and bacteria to spread further into the tooth. Damaged enamel can usually be treated with crowns or dental bonding.
- Under the enamel is the dentin, which is a softer layer. It is important to note that there are no nerves in the enamel or the dentin. Damage to the enamel and dentin may be uncomfortable, but it won't be extremely painful. If you do have some damage to the dentin, then crowns and fillings can often plug up the damage and prevent bacteria and infection from spreading into the heart of the tooth, which is the pulp.
- The pulp is the deepest layer of the tooth and houses nerves and blood vessels. If an infection does make it to the pulp, then you are probably going to be in a lot of pain. If an infection does reach this far, then the majority of the tooth is compromised and you might even need to get it removed. The main way of treating an infection of the pulp is a root canal.
So What is a Root Canal?
The goal of a root canal is to excise the damaged pulp and replace the void with a crown. To do this, your dentist will likely give you some local anesthesia and use some fine instruments to remove everything in the tooth that is infected. Although the procedure may be uncomfortable, it will be a lot less painful than letting infected pulp fester.
In order to replace the damaged components of the tooth, you will likely need to get a crown, since the damage will likely be too extensive for a filling. The final crown will likely take several weeks to prepare, which means that you dentist will likely fit you with a temporary crown in the meantime.
Contact a dentist like Baker Allan DDS for more information.