Until the last century, a decayed or infected tooth was pulled out without any remorse or thought to saving it. If it wasn’t yanked out, an abscess formed. The pus pocket of toxins caused tremendous pain and could also damage the jawbone. When the abscess broke, the toxins were released into the bloodstream, causing illness. Root canal therapy basically involves replacing a tooth’s dead nerve and diseased pulp. That means the dentist does not pull out the tooth, he just cleans out the inside of the root.
Once a tooth pushes through the gums and is fully grown, the nerve and the pulp aren’t important to the tooth’s health. The only function of the nerve is to transmit the awareness of hot or cold. When the diseased nerve cannot repair itself, it dies – no longer feeling any sensation. The pulp which is a soft tissue full of nerves and blood vessels fills the pulp chamber, which is below the tooth’s crown. It also fills the roots and root canals.
A tooth requiring root canal therapy has such extensive decay that the dentist must put a porcelain crown over the exposed tooth. Depending upon how many teeth are involved and where they are located, he may also discuss the need for a bridge or an implant.
To start the root canal therapy, the dentist will inject a numbing agent near the tooth. Theoretically, the nerve is dead so anesthesia should not be necessary, but most dentists don’t want to take a chance of a patient suddenly jumping in pain. A patient should be totally relaxed and free of pain because the delicate surgery requires minute precision.
Many teeth that underwent root canal therapy can easily last a person’s lifetime, but the procedure is expensive. The costly investment is worth protecting with at-home oral hygiene and regular dental checkups.