We’ve all heard the term “root canal” but most people aren’t really familiar with what it means or why it’s necessary. In tends to invoke fear but in reality, it’s a quick and comfortable procedure that can help relieve your pain and save your tooth.
The term itself is used to describe the natural cavity inside the center of the tooth. Inside your tooth, underneath the white enamel and a hard layer called dentin, is a soft tissue called pulp. This tissue contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, which help grow the root of your tooth during its development. A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is the process of medically removing a seriously injured or diseased tooth. It’s the best way to relieve serious pain and make teeth healthy again. In addition to relieving pain, a root canal also helps protect surrounding teeth from excessive wear or strain.
Does It Hurt?
Patients are given anesthesia so a root canal isn’t any more painful than a regular dental procedure like a filling or getting a wisdom tooth removed. The main difference is that a root canal is generally a bit sore or numb after the procedure and can potentially cause mild discomfort for a few days.
How Do I Know If I Need One?
Generally patients need a root canal when they notice their teeth are sensitive, particularly to hot and cold sensations. Sensitive teeth can indicate that harmful bacteria are getting into the nerves of the jaw and need to be removed.
How Long Does It Take?
It can vary depending on the type of tooth, but a root canal takes roughly 90 minutes per tooth. Most anterior teeth can be completed in 1 hour, while premolars and molars can take up to two hours to complete.