What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a treatment to repair and salvage a damaged and/or infected tooth. The term “root canal” originates from the action of cleaning the canals within the tooth’s root. The process involves eliminating the damaged area of the tooth (known as the pulp), filing and shaping the root canals to prevent reinfection, and disinfecting the tooth and surrounding areas and then filling and sealing it for protection. Common reasons for pulp necrosis are a cracked tooth that has become infected, an extensive cavity or trauma to the tooth that resulted in infection.

Why Would I Need a Root Canal?

A root canal is necessary to save the tooth from extraction once the nerve has started to go through an irreversible process of pain and death of the nerve and pulp tissue. Sometimes teeth become painful, but the pain is reversible. These teeth do not need a root canal. The first thing we do is to examine and test for which type of pain the tooth is experiencing.

A root canal is used to treat tooth decay caused by a variety of factors. Once the decay reaches an irreversible point, your dentist may recommend that you have a root canal. Once a tooth is infected, the nerve structure of the tooth will begin to die. During this process, substances are released that can cause an infection in the root of the tooth, which leads to moderate to severe pain and swelling. This is the point at which a toothache becomes painful enough for you to notice.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

During a root canal, the tooth is numbed and should make the procedure painless. We also offer nitrogen oxide to help patients relax and reduce discomfort. The decayed area of the tooth and infected pulp and the affected nerve tissue situated in the tooth’s roots are removed, and the tooth is prepped for filling the root canal. The filling material seals the tooth structure together in order to completely block the entire root structure and prevent oral fluids from reaching any of the internal root canal tooth structure.

Although the roots and nerve chamber are sealed by the filling, the tooth will still be severely weakened and will require a core buildup and a crown to protect its remaining structure. This repair will protect the tooth from further damage and probable loss of the tooth from fractuting of the roots if the tooth is not crowded, which will help restore proper function for eating, etc.

If you are experiencing tooth pain or are curious about any of our dental services, contact our Grand Rapids office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Zwier.

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