For many people, the words "root canal" strike up some kind of morbid fear. However, this particular process should never be feared and in fact should be considered a vital form of treatment, if you're going to retain the function of your natural teeth going forward. Why is a root canal so important?
The Onset of Problems
Sometimes, infection can spread from the surface of the teeth further down into the living tissue inside. This is where the nerves and blood vessels are, together with a large number of connecting tissues. The tissue, in turn, protects the bone underneath the tooth, where it is lodged. If infection becomes widespread in this area, you'll notice a considerable amount of pain and the dentist will recommend a root canal to sort it all out.
How a Root Canal Works
Basically, the infection within the tissues, blood vessels and nerves will need to be removed. This is called get rid of the "pulp." Once this has been done, the area remaining will need to be disinfected and cleaned, before being filled with a special substance to seal it off. This will mean that it can't be affected by further infection in the future.
The tooth will remain functional and won't die off, because it is essentially connected to the bone by ligaments and membranes. The tooth does not actually need the specific blood vessels and nerves that are removed together with the infection.
It's important to act as quickly as possible, so that the growing infection doesn't actually spread into the bone. This can weaken the area that supports the tooth and may mean that the dentist is not able to save the actual tooth itself. However, in most cases after the root canal has been completed, a filling or a crown will be placed on top to restore everything to its original functionality.
Crowning It Off
Many people wonder why the dentist will recommend that a crown be fitted, following a root canal. This is essentially to ensure the tooth maintains its rigidity and enables you to bite down on it as you normally would, without experiencing any issues. Note that the crown is normally fitted at a second visit, once the area has had time to heal following the root canal.
The Best Choice
Some people seem to think that it's "easier" to have a problematic tooth removed and replaced with bridgework, or left as a "gap." Firstly, you should always replace rather than just leave, but it's definitely better to keep the natural tooth in some shape or form if you can. This is where a root canal therapy can provide the best solution.