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ROOT CANAL THERAPY
A root canal is the space within the root of a tooth. Within the canal there is a pulp chamber, a hollow area filled with arteries, veins, lymph vessels, loose connective tissue, and the dental pulp. Pulp nourishes and hydrates the tooth structure which makes the tooth stronger and less prone to fracture from occlusal force (chewing hard foods). Blood vessels carry nutrition to the pulp, and sensory nerves carry signals back to the brain. A hot and cold sensory function is contained within the dental pulp.
Root canal is a term for a dental procedure which involves removing the infected or dead pulp in the root canal of a tooth, disinfecting the space and then filling and repairing the canal.
The dentist will recommend a root canal or endodontic therapy in situations where the pulp or nerve of a tooth has been affected by decay or trauma. In cases of decay or trauma, the area of the affected tooth becomes inflamed, triggering an increase in the blood flow to that site. The increased blood flow causes pressure on the tooth’s nerve endings and generates the pain response. Pain usually occurs at night or when lying down. Pain can result from exposure to hot or cold and can be occasional or continuous. Eventually the decay and infection may invade the pulp space and travel through the canal settling at the end of the root. The result is an abscess or swelling.
There are other possible causes of nerve pain including: fractured teeth, large fillings that are not tolerated by the pulp or constant trauma to the tooth. If the dentist determines root canal treatment is needed, the canal is cleaned and the space filled with an inert, rubber-like material that helps seal the space. As with any procedure, success or failure of a procedure depends on the circumstances, extent of infection and patient. These can be discussed with the dentist. After the root canal has been cleaned and treated, the patient returns to the dentist to restore the tooth’s structure and appearance.