Root Canal Therapy
At Dose Family Dental Care in Lake Oswego we are often asked what goes on during certain procedures. One of the most frequent questions we are asked is, “what exactly is a root canal?” So many people have heard of root canal therapy but so few actually understand what it is. Our strong belief is that educating our patients in all aspects of dental health and procedures is extremely important. Once you know what a root canal is you can take steps to protect your teeth from needing one.
Why would l need a root canal?Root canal therapy is a term used to describe the procedure of removing the two inner layers of the tooth. The outermost layer of a tooth is the enamel. Enamel is extremely hard and white in color. It is the first line of protection our teeth have against decay and injury.
Over time enamel can begin to wear thin on our teeth. Due to our diet and the constant act of chewing, clenching and tapping against fellow teeth, enamel wears down. The biggest reason we lose enamel on our teeth is due to decay. Bacteria within our mouth that are missed by brushing and flossing can build up and form plaque and tartar. These colonies of bacteria can eat straight through our enamel.
Once through the enamel the bacteria will keep on eating into the next layer of our teeth – the dentin. Dentin is another hard substance that a large portion of our tooth is made of. It is yellow in color and not quite as hard as the thin layer of enamel. Dentin is not quite as resistant to decay as enamel is, so the decay can spread faster.
Finally, once the decay has made it through the dentin, it will reach the pulp of the tooth. Primarily comprised of spongy organic tissue, decay can really wreak havoc. The last part of the tooth lies inside the pulp – the root. Once the root is damaged, the tooth is on its way to dying. It can be very expensive to replace a tooth with a dental implant. It can also be a big hassle with removable dental appliances. This is where a root canal comes in.
Having a root canal done can save a tooth from having to be removed and replaced. Not only can it prevent you from having to lose a tooth, it costs much less than having to replace a tooth. The end result is you get to keep your natural tooth at a fraction of the price it would cost to replace it.
What is a root canal?During root canal therapy we begin the procedure by removing all decay within the tooth. We want the tooth to be completely free of decay when we finish so that it can’t be damaged any further. We will make a small hole at the top of the tooth and use that to access any decay within the tooth.
From the entry point we will make our way down past the layers of enamel and dentin until we hit the pulp. Dr. Dose will remove all of the pulp within the tooth as well as the root. The tooth will be hollow at this point. Dr. Dose will use a dental cleaning solution to ensure that all bacteria within the hollow tooth is sterilized.
At this point we can begin to finalize the root canal procedure. We will fill the void we made within the tooth with a substance called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is an inert material that will give your tooth the support it needs to continue to act as a tooth should. Once this is done and the entry hole is filled the procedure is finished.
What are signs that I may need a root canal?Some of the signs that indicate that you may need a root canal are tenderness of the tooth or a sensitivity to hot and cold. Any time you experience tooth pain is a cause for concern and swelling can be an indicator also.
If you are concerned that you may need a root canal, or if you haven’t been in for a regular cleaning and examination recently, please give us a call today at (503) 765-7300 and we will schedule you for an appointment.
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Nicholas Dose, DMD
601 1st Street Suite A
Lake Oswego, OR 97034-2370