If you have been told you need a root canal on an infected tooth, you may have a lot of questions, especially if you have never had one before. While the term root canal sounds daunting, it is actually a tooth-saving procedure that should help free you from pain. Here is some additional information about root canals.
The Anatomy of a Tooth
Your tooth has a lot of responsibility to grind and chew up food, but it's a relatively simple organ. The outside of the tooth is covered in enamel that protects the tooth. Underneath the enamel is another hard layer of dentin. In the middle of the tooth is the tooth pulp, which is soft, and filled with nerves and blood vessels. Both the nerves and the blood vessels lead to the tooth roots that anchor the tooth into your jawbone.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
The most likely reason you need a root canal is that you have an infected tooth. Nearly all infected teeth start as a cavity. Cavities occur when the acids in bacteria eat through your enamel and dentin to reach the tooth pulp. If the cavity is discovered early, dentists can get rid of the cavity and fix the tooth so that the infection never reaches the pulp.
However, if your tooth is infected, you will need a root canal in order to prevent the loss of your tooth due to infection. After the dentist numbs the tooth, they cut a hole in the top of the tooth to treat the infection. Once the infection is removed, the tooth pulp is replaced with biodegradable material, and a crown is placed over the tooth to further protect it.
Most people find relief from the pain of their infected tooth after a root canal. You will want to treat that tooth gently for a couple of days before returning to your normal diet. If you feel uncomfortable after a root canal, you can take over-the-counter medications to help relieve the pain. Before you know it, your tooth will be as good as new.
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