Root canals or endodontic procedures are relatively common procedures that are used to salvage teeth that may otherwise require extraction. Here are a few questions and answers about root canals to help you better understand them:

What happens during a root canal procedure?

During a root canal, the pulp of a tooth is removed. Once your dentist removes the dental pulp, he or she disinfects the interior chambers of the tooth. After the tooth is thoroughly disinfected, it is filled and covered by a dental crown for protection and fortification.

What is the pulp of a tooth?

The pulp is the soft living tissue in the center of a tooth. It lies beneath the enamel and dentin and contains the blood supply and dental nerves. If there is a breach in the tooth\’s surface, the pulp may be invaded by oral bacteria, resulting in an infection within the tooth.

The pulp does not only reside in the crown of the tooth, which lies above the gum line. Instead, it extends to the tip of the tooth\’s roots. Although the pulp is needed for the proper growth and development of a tooth, a tooth can survive without the pulp after it has fully matured.

Why is a root canal needed?

If the living material within your tooth is inflamed or infected, it may have to be removed. In many instances, a root canal or a dental extraction may be the only options for relieving the dental discomfort caused by inflamed dental nerves. A root canal is typically preferred because it permits the restoration and retaining of the tooth.

Inflammation of the pulp can occur for a variety of reasons, such as the following:

  • Dental decay. Deep cavities can eventually reach the pulp and grant access to oral bacteria.
  • A chip or crack within a tooth. Cracks or chips can extend through the enamel and dentin.
  • Trauma to a tooth. A blow to the mouth can damage a tooth\’s pulp even though the enamel appears intact.
  • Overuse of over-the-counter whiteners. Abuse of over-the-counter tooth-whitening products can increase dental sensitivity and permanently inflame the dental nerves within a tooth.

What symptoms indicate that your pulp is damaged or infected?

In most cases, symptoms will present to indicate that your tooth needs to be treated endodontically. Here are a few of them:

  • Increased sensitivity to temperature changes
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • An abscess or pimple-like bump on the gums near the tooth
  • Foul-smelling liquid draining from a tooth
  • Tooth pain

Is a root canal painful?

During the root canal procedure, the dentist applies local anesthesia and sedation medication as necessary. As a result, you are unlikely to feel any discomfort during your root canal treatment.

After your endodontic treatment, your tooth may be a bit sensitive for a couple of days. However, this discomfort is often relieved with over-the-counter pain medication.

If you live in the Paris, KY area and are experiencing problems with a tooth, contact our office to schedule an appointment. Dr. Brooks can assess your condition and prescribe an appropriate treatment.