Getting to the Root of It – Understanding Root Canals

Recognizing Root Canal Awareness Week, March 27- April 2, 2011

Dentist Examining an X Ray of Teeth

You probably have heard someone talk about needing a root canal procedure. If you wonder why this procedure is performed and when it’s necessary, check out the following information.

Reasons for Root Canals

Most individuals have teeth with one to four root canals, but some may have one main root with extra canals that branch out. These small canals contain the nerves of the tooth, also known as the pulp of the tooth. If the pulp is injured, a root canal procedure may be necessary. Here are some common reasons:

  • Dying tooth – Due to age or past trauma, a tooth may die slowly
  • Trauma – The nerve is exposed when a tooth is chipped or broken
  • Decay – Tooth decay invades the tooth enamel and goes into the pulp
  • Abscessed – A bacterial infection occurs from tooth decay, creating painful inflammation of surrounding tissues

Do You Need a Root Canal?

If your dentist determines that you need a root canal, ask the following questions to learn more about the procedure:

  • Why is a root canal necessary?
  • What happens during the procedure?
  • How is it performed?
  • Who will perform the root canal? Your dentist may do the procedure or refer you to an endodontist – a dentist who specializes in diseases of the dental pulp and nerves
  • How many visits are needed to complete the procedure?
  • What is the length of time for recovery and healing?
  • After the root canal procedure, will you need other dental work to protect the tooth?

If you, or someone you know, had a root canal, tell me about your experience and the follow-up care.– Ken VanCleave, Ameritas Group