What are Root Canals?

A root canal is the process of cleaning the inside of a tooth to save it. A tooth forms from the outside in, leaving hollow spaces (canals) on the inside of the tooth roots where there are blood vessels and nerves (called pulp tissue). A root canal (also called root canal therapy [RCT] or endodontics) involves cleaning out these small spaces (canals) with small files, flushing the canals with a disinfectant, and sealing off the space with a rubber material called gutta percha. A back tooth should have a filling (called a build up) and a crown or onlay to hold the remaining tooth structure together. A root-canaled tooth should feel the same as your other teeth except it has no ability to sense hot or cold. The longevity of a root-canaled tooth should be excellent as long as the restorative care (fillings, crowns, etc.) is completed and the tooth is maintained with good tooth-brushing, flossing, and regular dental care. A root-canaled tooth is still susceptible to decay (cavities). The alternative to a root canal is removal of the tooth.

At Sherwood Dental Care we use state of the art dental equipment and techniques for root canals. This allows us to achieve excellent results comfortably while reducing risks and your time in the dental chair. Many patients have said having a root canal is as unremarkable as having a filling done.

Indications

Indicators that a tooth could need a root canal are:

  • Sensitivity to cold that lingers more than 2 minutes after the cold source is removed
  • Spontaneous aching of tooth
  • Aching from hot food or drinks
  • Pain when chewing on tooth
  • Deep decay (cavity) that has reached the nerve (pulp)
  • Abscess noted on x-ray

Causes

Things that can cause teeth to need root canals are:

  • Deep decay that has reached or come close to the nerve (pulp)
  • A cracked tooth
  • Traumatic injury to the tooth recently or in the past
  • Bacteria in the blood stream lodging in nerve (pulp) tissue (a process called anachoresis)
  • Moderate to severe periodontal disease