Root Canal Therapy
Deep inside, teeth have an empty space that contains the nerve and blood vessels. This is called the pulp chamber. From the pulp chamber, narrow tendrils of these tissues extend through the roots (the “canals”) and exit out the end of the root to join the main body of nerve in the bone. This pulpal structure is quite large in children’s teeth, but tends to shrink over time.
The dental pulp can become irritated very easily. Deep decay, a blow to the mouth, cracks in teeth or excess bite pressure can all cause inflammation of the nerve. Because the blood supply in teeth is weak, nerves may not recover well if they do become inflamed. The irritation can develop into severe pain or, in the case of nerve death, infection can develop.
Root canal treatment involves removal of the diseased pulp throughout the canal system. The canals are cleaned and shaped with the use of progressively larger files. The canal system is then sealed off (“filled”) with biocompatible materials.
In most cases, crown placement is required after root canal therapy. This supports the tooth and prevents fracture.