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Understanding Root Canals

Root Canal

What exactly is a root canal? A surprising number of people don’t know the answer to this question. Perhaps this is because so many people loathe going to the dentist or fear going and hearing the dreaded sentence of a root canal and consequently, avoid talking about it. The sad truth is that root canals are common. The good news though is that they are easily fixed and the process doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth.

First, a bit of anatomy. Underneath your tooth enamel and the part underneath that (called the dentin) is your pulp. It’s every bit unpleasant as it sounds, but the pulp is what causes you to need a root canal to begin with. This soft tissue contains all sorts of blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves designed to help your tooth’s roots grow during your developmental years. Typically, as the tooth ages and settles in for a lifetime of chomping, the pulp dissipates and leaves the tooth nourishing to the tissues around it. You can probably see where this is going.

Once the pulp inside of your tooth becomes inflamed, irritated, or infected bad things begin to happen. You can experience pain, discomfort, decay, cracks—just about anything you’d rather not have happen to your only chewing tools. Thus, it’s time for a root canal. During this process, all of the bad and icky pulp gets cleaned up, or disinfected. Afterwards, a rubber-like seal is placed on the tooth. Finally, a crown or filling is placed on top, like a well-fitted hardhat for your tooth. It’s really pretty simple and not nearly as scary as people seem to think.

The American Association of Endodontists says having a root canal should be no more painful, or burdensome than having a routine filling. After one or two appointments, your teeth should be back to chewing like they did in no time. To better ease your mind, be sure to work with a trusted dentist who specializes in restorative procedures, such as root canals.

  Dr. Alan Zabolian is a proud member of  
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