That is a very common question I get, most people in fact think that a root canal procedure “removes the roots.” This is a misconception, a tooth with no roots would not be able to remain in the mouth because the roots are what anchor to tooth in the jaw (bone). I attached a tooth diagram to this post, I will go over the parts of the tooth as well as explain the procedure of a root canal.
As you can see labeled above, Enamel is the outer and strongest part of the tooth. It is able to withstand the many cycles of chewing in a lifetime and will wear down with time. Directly underneath it is Dentin which is a porous mineralized tissue that has little tubules within it. These tubules harbor the nerve endings that can detect cavities as well temperature changes that the tooth may endure. The innermost layer is simply called “the pulp.” This tissue is what is commonly referred to as “the nerve”. It is a part of the tooth that contains the nerve cells, blood vessels, and the lymphatic vessels that together form the pulp.
This area is normally sterile and does not harbor bacteria, however when a cavity slowly dissolves the top layers of a tooth it can enter the pulp tissue and initiate an infection. We will go through the symptoms of the infections in future posts, but generally speaking that is when most people seek dental care due to the severity of the pain associated with what is referred to as pulpitis (inflammation of the pulp) or abscess (infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth in the bone).
So after reading all that, I can now tell you that a root canal procedure is the process by which we access and clean the internal part of the tooth (the pulp) and fill it in with man made materials to inhibit the invasion of bacteria into that space. Most root canal treatments are not stereotypical painful experiences as you see in pop culture, however not all root canals are created equal. If you would like more detailed information or have a specific question you want addressed in the next post please leave a comment or use the contact page to send me an email. Depending on how popular this gets, I will dedicate more and more time to it in the future. If you enjoyed this article please share with your friends on social media.
Thanks for visiting and see you next time!