Before we talk about why root canal treatment is needed, let’s clear up the most common myth in dentistry. No, a root canal procedure is not painful, hazardous, or any of the other horrible things you’ve probably heard. It is a common dental procedure, much like filling a cavity. The process is comfortable and efficient, and the results are highly predicable.

A root canal is a space inside of the tooth root, which is connected to the pulp chamber in the upper part of the tooth. Inside of these spaces are nerves, vessels, and other soft tissue, known as dental pulp. A root canal procedure is simply a technique for removing this pulp, cleaning out the chamber and canal, then sealing out bacteria. So, why would we need to take the pulp out of a tooth? It is virtually always for one of two reasons. Either the pulp is infected, or it is injured.

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Untreated cavities are the most common cause of infected dental pulp. Decay begins in the enamel, and then chews into the dentin layer. If allowed to continue, it will erode away the dentin until the pulp in the center of the tooth is exposed, making it vulnerable to bacteria. Deep fractures, broken teeth, or severely worn teeth can also give bacteria a passageway to the center of the tooth.


A fractured or broken tooth may have injured pulp, even if infection has not set in. In some cases, oral trauma can cause pulp injury without any visible sign of damage to the tooth. It is also possible to have one or several hairline fractures in a tooth that are too fine to be visible. This often occurs in patients with bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth), because their teeth are subjected to an excessive amount of pressure.

Chronic toothaches, sensitivity in one specific tooth, and infections around the tooth are indications that you may need a root canal treatment. If you are experiencing these symptoms, or any other dental problems, call Pleasant Dental® in Dolton at (708) 576-1900 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Dietrich today.

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