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Sunday January 25th, 2015

Posted at 3:00pm

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Guest Article By Dr. Peter Siedlakowski

If your dentist recommended a root canal on a tooth, chances are you’re in a bit of discomfort and possibly have some phobia about the procedure. However, root canals should not be so scary. A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing the tissues within a tooth. There are 3 main tissues that a tooth is composed of: 1. Enamel (outermost), 2. Dentin (middle) and 3. Pulp (inner most). When a carious lesion (cavity) forms on a tooth and is left untreated the bacteria will erode the outer tooth structure (enamel) first,and then migrate towards the inner most pulp. You may not feel any symptoms until bacteria infiltrate the pulp but when this happens, in most cases, the only solution to save the tooth is to perform a root canal. By this time the tooth will get an infection and your body will respond the only way it knows how PAIN.

Only the proper diagnoses by a dentist can tell if a root canal is required. This involves running tests on the tooth such as: cold test (placing a cold cotton swab on tooth), percussion test (tapping the tooth), palpation test (feeling around the soft tissue structures), vitality test, etc.

If the decision is made that a root canal is needed then the next step is to clean the infected inner tooth structure (pulp) so that it is sterile/bacteria free (i.e root canal procedure). Once this is accomplished the tooth is filled with a special kind of root canal filling material called “guttapercha” and sealed. All this is done with dental anesthetic to limit the discomfort. When completed the tooth is technically “dead” however it remains in the bone of the tooth by surrounding supporting structures called “periodontal ligaments”.

Regular check ups with the dentist can avoid root canals by catching cavities early and eliminating the possibility that they spread to the nerve.

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