Posted on: 11 September 2018Share
Hearing that you need a root canal can fill some people with dread, but in reality, this is a procedure that can potentially save you from completely losing a tooth. If you've been diagnosed as having a cavity and aren't sure why a root canal is necessary, here's what you need to know.
When cavities initially develop, they typically only penetrate through the outer shell of the tooth - the enamel. When the enamel is broken down with holes or damage, that's what's referred to as a cavity. However, cavities don't have to stop there, and without proper care from a dentist, they often continue to go deeper down into the tooth.
When it Goes Deeper
Your tooth enamel is durable and designed to withstand damage. However, the same can't be said of the rest of your tooth.
When a cavity goes past the enamel and into the interior of the tooth, permanent damage can occur. The pulp, dentin, and root of your teeth aren't intended to be exposed to bacteria, plaque, or other common substances in the mouth. As a result, the cavity itself - or the other elements in your mouth that the interior of your tooth have been exposed to - can all damage those fragile parts of the tooth.
Unfortunately, that's not the only problem that can happen. When a tooth becomes badly damaged, it can also become infected. If the infection reaches the root, that infection can quickly spread through the gums to other teeth and your bloodstream. Once it's in the blood, it can move anywhere in the body, which makes this condition very dangerous. As a result, removing the root is the one way to stop this from happening.
Keeping the Tooth
Removing the root of a tooth doesn't mean getting rid of the entire tooth. This is one of the main reasons why a root canal in a dentist's office is so handy.
If an entire tooth had to be pulled, that would mean either having a gap in your smile or going through the added difficulty of getting a tooth replacement. With a root canal, the root and some of the interior tissue of the tooth is removed, but the remainder of the tooth is preserved. This means your own tooth stays in place and will continue to work like it always has without added cost or time spent on a tooth replacement.
If you're worried about an upcoming root canal, make sure to communicate your concerns to your dentist. They'll be able to give you all the answers you need and ensure that you're feeling confident the day of your procedure.