Root canal treatment is performed when problems arise with the nerve tissue, or “pulp,” of the tooth. We’ve all heard or seen skits depicting root canal therapy as an extremely painful treatment, but nothing could be further than the truth. Any discomfort felt during the procedure is really no different than that experienced while getting a filling.
Patients require root canal treatment when the pulp tissue of the tooth becomes infected or inflamed. Even though there’s very little of it inside each tooth, pulp tissue is full of blood vessels, nerve cells, and connective tissue. Which is why, when infected and inflamed, it can be very painful. Often times the pain subsides for a while and you think you’re all better, but the pain rarely fails to come back. And when it does, it comes with a vengeance and always at a bad time! That’s why it is never a good idea to wait if a root canal is determined to be your best treatment option.
Another reason for not waiting is that once treated and restored with a filling or crown, your tooth stands a much greater chance of lasting for the long term. If the tooth becomes “un-savable” and needs to be removed, then you open yourself to a variety of problems which may be costly and complicated.
So what causes the pulp to become infected and inflamed? Typically it’s a result of deep tooth decay. That’s why it’s important to address cavities sooner than later. Untreated, cavities only get larger and deeper, allowing bacteria to make its way to the pulp. Other common causes are chips or cracks in the tooth that allow bacteria to get to the pulp. Or perhaps there was a high level of trauma brought to the tooth by a sports injury, fall or auto accident.
The best way to avoid the need for root canal therapy is regular checkups and cleanings. If decay is present, address it quickly with a filling. Waiting too long opens the door for greater problems and more expensive treatment!