If you have ever had a root canal therapy in Salinas or elsewhere, you are not alone. Each year, millions of teeth are saved by endodontic or root canal therapy. The root canal is an involved process that makes it possible to save a tooth by removing infected pulp. It has been found that a tooth can survive without the pulp. Therefore, removing the tooth’s pulp, when it has become infected, makes it possible to save the tooth.

The Anatomy of a Tooth

In order to understand how a root canal is performed, you need to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of a tooth. The outside of the tooth is the enamel and a hard layer known as the dentin. Under these two layers is a soft tissue that is known as the pulp. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. This part of the tooth enables the root of the tooth to develop during the formative years. When the tooth is fully developed, it can live without the pulp because it is nourished by the surrounding tissues.

Usually a root canal can be performed in one or two sessions, depending on a tooth’s condition. In fact, endodontic treatment is similar to getting a routine filling. Saving the natural tooth by the use of root canal therapy offers the patient several advantages, namely better chewing, normalized biting, and a natural appearance.

Having the procedure done also safeguards the other teeth from excessive strain or wear.

How the Pulp Can Become Infected

A root canal is performed inside a tooth when the pulp is determined to be infected or inflamed. The inflammation or infection can result from deep decay, repeated dental work, a chip or crack in the tooth or a faulty crown. In addition, sometimes trauma can result in pulp damage. If the condition is left untreated, an abscess can result. An abscess is an infection at the tip of the tooth’s root.

The most common cause for an abscess is decay. In other words, a cavity becomes so large that it extends to the pulp chamber. In turn, inflammation occurs. This inflammation is called pulpitis, usually known as a toothache.

The inflammation can be diagnosed as reversible or irreversible. Reversible pulpitis means the pulp is irritated. However, it may be able to recover. When the inflammation is irreversible, it means the pulp is dying. An abscess will form if the pulp dies or becomes necrotic. If the infection is resolved at an early stage, the tooth can still be saved. During root canal therapy, the infected or inflamed pulp is removed. The inside of the tooth is then disinfected and cleaned. It is then filled and sealed with a rubber-like substance known as gutta-percha. The tooth is good as new after the therapy.