No matter how good a job we do at taking care of our teeth, the truth is that some of us will experience some oral health care issues in our lifetimes. Perhaps it will be periodontal disease, or it may be decay brought about by acid erosion. Another common problem would be the need for a root canal.

So what exactly is a root canal and how is it treated?

In truth, the “root canal” is actually the natural cavity found at the centre of the tooth. Within that area, you will find what is referred to as the “pulp” or the “pulp chamber”.  The pulp is the soft material that surrounds the nerve.

Sometimes people may experience damage to the nerve or the pulp chamber. This can be caused by some form of trauma, or it may simply be the cumulative result of decay over a period of time.

As a consequence of such trauma or decay, some people may experience a build-up of bacteria around that nerve. If enough bacteria builds up, an infection or an abscess can develop.

This can prove to be quite painful for some people, as the infection will press right against the nerve of the tooth. Furthermore, the infection can spread to the adjoining teeth, resulting in serious complications if left untreated, including bone and tissue loss.

The remedy for this condition is a treatment we also refer to as a “root canal”. If we determine that a root canal is required for your condition, we will have to access the pulp chamber to remove the infection. This usually involves removing the pulp as well. As the nerve of the tooth will essentially be “dead” at this time, it will need a crown to protect the integrity of the remaining structure.

Patients who visit our office regularly may be fortunate in that we can catch the developing condition before you actually experience any pain. Using x-rays, we may be able to spot a developing infection that might go undetected by the naked eye. Not only could that save you the discomfort of the abscess itself, your treatment may not be as extensive given the early stage of detection. 

It is important to keep in mind that just because you cannot feel any discomfort, does not necessarily mean all is well below the gum line. This is why we rely upon x-rays to; quite literally, allow us to get to the “root” of the problem before it becomes urgent.  We can only do that if you visit us at Rideau Dental Centre on a regular basis. 

So make sure you visit us at least twice per year for a complete review of your oral health. Because early detection of an infection is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon