1. A root canal is part of your tooth. The root canal is the natural tube located inside the root(s) of each tooth. The pulp is the nerve tissue and blood vessels inside each tooth that gives it life, Together, the root canal and the pulp is called the root canal system.
2. A root canal is also a dental procedure. A root canal is a dental treatment performed on an infected tooth to remove the infection, relieve the pain and save the tooth. We now call this treatment a root canal treatment or root canal system cleaning, which better describes the process.
During a root canal system cleaning, the endodontist or dentist removes the pulp, nerves and infected material from inside the root canal system and then disinfects and seals it. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abcesses may form.
Myths and Facts about Root Canal Treatments
Do I still need to take Advil or Tylenol if I'm not having pain? We recommend that you take analgesics for three days after the procedure, so they are in your system if pain occurs, which sometimes happens from 24 to 72 hours after the procedure.
Why can't I use a hot or cold compress after a root canal? We don't recommend using cold compresses because the cold temperature may reduce blood flow and slow the healing process. At times, we may recommend a hot compress in cases of infection and swelling.
Will a root canal remove the actual roots of my tooth? The misconception is in the terminology itself. The true definition of a root canal treatment is cleaning out the root canal system which consists of blood and nerve tissue inside the tooth. We are not removing the physical roots of the tooth; the roots remain intact in the jaw bone.
Why do some people need a second root canal? A revision of an old root canal treatment may be necessary for these reasons: 1. Inadequate original treatment. 2. Missed Canal - Every tooth has a unique root structure; some may be difficult to detect. 3. Bacteria or microorganisms not completely removed due to complex internal anatomy of the tooth. 4. Root canals were not sealed correctly - The root canal system must be sealed from the crown to the root tips to prevent bacteria from entering the space again. 5. Bacteria reintroduced due to a leaking crown or filling, cavity, grinding, occlusal trauma (biting down hard) or trauma to the tooth.
What is root end surgery? When there is bone loss around the roots of a tooth, the area is filled with soft tissue and fluid. A pimple on the gum may appear to indicate a tooth infection. If bone doesn't get redeposited and the tissue becomes an obstruction to healing, you may risk losing the tooth. Alternatively, your dentist may recommend an additional procedure called apioectomy, or root end surgery. In this procedure, the tip of the root is cut off and the root end is filled with another type of special material. The area of the bone infection is also called cleaned out.
I have concerns about radiation. Do I need x-rays? X-rays are essential to help the dentist to see and diagnose conditions that are impossible to see with the naked eye. Your endodontist will take multiple x-rays from different angles and test your teeth to accurately diagnose if a root canal system treatment is necessary. The benefits of having x-rays far outweigh the risks. Most dental offices now have digital x-rays which use a very narrow spectrum of rays to minimize radiation.
What type of material is used to fill the root canal space? The root canal system is filled with a material that is compatible with the body but also easy to remove, just in case there is a problem, and the root canal treatment needs to be revised.