Prior to recent advances in medicine, damage to the core of a tooth usually signaled the need for its quick removal. The modern dental solution is a root canal, known in the medical community as endodontic treatment or endodontic therapy. This procedure generally involves several trips to the dentist and is performed right in the dentist’s chair. A root canal procedure (or endodontic treatment) cleans, disinfects, and refills the interior of the tooth, thereby preventing serious pain and permanent damage to a decayed tooth.
Of all the reasons that a patient may need a root canal, tooth decay is the top reason that their teeth suffer damage that’s extensive enough. Tooth decay occurs from the expelling of acid waste from bacteria in your mouth. As they consume leftover food particles and sugars, the acid waste builds up into plaque and eats away at the enamel.
As the plaque eats away at the enamel, the dark pits and cracks start to form as each layer of the tooth is eroded away. The more sensitive inner layers of the tooth are susceptible to pain and sensitivity, which is why so many patients with cavities complain of tooth pain.
Depending on the severity of the tooth decay, a root canal may be recommended to help replenish the health of the tooth.
Root canals are reserved for when the nerve or the pulp of a tooth becomes infected, typically from tooth decay.
A root canal is usually performed on a cracked tooth or a tooth with a very deep interior cavity. If a root canal is not performed, bacteria is able to enter the core of the tooth (known as the pulp) and cause decay of the nerve, tissue, and blood vessels in the tooth’s canal(s). If this is left untreated, the diseased tooth may become extremely sensitive to heat and cold, may throb, or may even cause infection in the jawbone (an abscess).