If you have a toothache, you might need a root canal procedure. Of course, there are many potential causes of toothaches, and therefore many potential solutions. However, just the possibility of needing a root canal is enough to keep many people away from the dentist. It is often said that we fear what we do not understand, which is probably the best explanation of why this gentle, effective procedure is so often dreaded.

Understanding the tooth

To understand the procedure, it helps to understand the basic anatomy of a tooth first:

  • The crown is the visible part of the tooth, showing above the gumline.
  • The root is the part of the tooth below the gumline, extending to the jawbone.
  • Enamel is the hard outer layer protecting the crown.
  • Cementum covers the tooth root.
  • Dentin (a softer substance) is the layer beneath the enamel and cementum.
  • Dental pulp, which includes nerves, vessels, and other soft tissues, in contained in a hollow space in the center of the tooth, surrounded by dentin.
  • Pulp chamber is the name given to the portion of this hollow space that is inside of the tooth crown.
  • Root canal is the name of the portion of the hollow that is in the tooth root.
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Understanding oral infection

Even the cleanest mouth has an abundant amount of bacteria and other microorganisms. Ideally, brushing, flossing, and professional teeth cleaning will remove any accumulation before they chew into tooth enamel and cause damage. However, chips, cracks, existing cavities, and other tooth damage can give bacteria access to softer inner layers of the tooth. Individuals with gum disease are especially susceptible, because it causes the gumline to recede, exposing tooth roots. The cementum layer over the root is softer than enamel, and decays much more quickly.

Once infection reaches the dental pulp, it damages the nerves and increases pressure inside of the tooth. When it reaches the end of the root canal, it can affect the jawbone. The result is pain, temperature sensitivity, pressure sensitivity, and possible infection pockets (abscesses) forming near the tooth.

The solution

As you may know, the cure for infection is to kill or remove the bacteria. If you have an infected wound on your skin, cleaning and medicating it is usually rather simple. However, when it is inside of a tooth, the situation is more complex. By creating a small opening in the crown, Dr. Dietrich can access the pulp chamber and root canal to remove infection and apply medication. This procedure is known as root canal therapy.

You may have heard that an infected tooth can’t be numbed, making the procedure painful. Dr. Dietrich prescribes antibiotics to reduce inflammation, which relieves the nerve irritation. Using this technique, your tooth can be numbed for a comfortable process. Once the procedure is completed and the tooth is restored, it can remain beautiful and pain-free indefinitely with good hygiene and regular dental care.

If you have a toothache, don’t procrastinate seeing a dentist. Visit Pleasant Dental®, where our gentle techniques live up to our name! Our office is conveniently located in Dolton, IL, for easy access from nearby communities such as Calumet City. Call us at (708) 576-1900 and schedule an appointment today.

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