Comprehensive Family Dentistry: What is a Root Canal?

What Causes Root Canals

Root canals occur when the pulp tissue becomes severely inflamed.  Inflammation is a response from your body to heal damaged tissue. This response becomes a problem when the body tries to heal severely damage pulp tissue because the tissue simply cannot recover from severe degeneration. The primary cause for this level of inflammation of the pulp tissue is deep tooth decay. In other words, when you leave a cavity untreated for too long, the decay grows further within the tooth.

Later Stages

At a later stage in tooth decay, pulp tissue inflammation has noticeable symptoms — although even these can be slight at first. As inflammation of the pulp tissue increases, sensitivity of the tooth does as well. This is why pulp tissue is commonly understood by patients as ‘the nerve’ of the tooth. This sensitivity is most commonly associated with increased susceptibility to pain when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks. Additionally, later stages of pulp tissue inflammation include spontaneous symptoms of pain as well as continual toothaches. These toothaches are especially prevalent at night where the increase of blood pressure in the head (due to lying down) aggravates the inflammation. Chewing soreness is also associated with further stages of pulp tissue degradation.

Revealing the Issue

With comprehensive family dentistry, an X-ray can usually reveal pulp tissue inflammation and the subsequent need for a root canal. Root canals are necessary when a much larger portion of the tooth is infected. Therefore, a typical filling following a root canal procedure is not sufficient for the long-term stability and health of the tooth. Due to this, it isn’t simply the removal of decayed matter that is integral to the success of a root canal: the tooth must be properly reinforced by a crown, also known as a “cap”, in addition to other restoration materials to help prevent future fracture and possible loss of the tooth.

At Falmouth Dental Associates, comprehensive family dentistry means a proactive approach that can help prevent the need for a root canal. Don’t hesitate to contact your dentist if you experience any abnormal increases in these signs.