Before the technological advancement and evolution of the field of dentistry, a root canal procedure used to be horrifying for the patient and challenging for the dentist.
Though indeed, this procedure is only performed in serious situations, there is nothing to be stressed out about.
Now, this procedure has become painless and way easier that a significant number of people around the world undergo this treatment daily without much hesitation or worry.
What is a root canal though?
At the center of the tooth, under the hard outer enamel and sponge-like inner dentin, there is a collection of soft tissue called the pulp.
The pulp helps keep the tooth healthy and has the nerves and blood vessels that allow for tooth growth.
When a bacterial infection gets to the tooth pulp, the tooth’s nerve tissue breaks down and bacteria build up within the pulp chamber. In this case, a root canal procedure is performed to repair and save the natural tooth.
The question is, why does the bacterial infection even get to the tooth pulp in the first place?
Here are some reasons behind a root canal:
Poor Oral Hygiene
Brushing your teeth, flossing, and using a mouthwash are the keys to maintaining good oral health and preventing many dental problems.
Brushing prevents the formation of plaque by disrupting the development of bacterial biofilm, and flossing helps you get to and clean out the hard-to-reach areas.
If you fail to take care of your oral hygiene, you are allowing for deep cavities and tooth decay to occur, leading to a bacterial infection that can progress and get to the pulp.
But if you take good care of your teeth dental hygiene, then you will avoid many problems.
Skipping Dental Checkups
Many people might struggle with what is called dentophobia, or fear of the dentist. It is a common thing among people of all ages and can range from mild to severe, leading to serious dental problems.
If you are one of those people, or you simply detest going to the dentist for no reason, you are at high risk for developing dental complications.
Stopping at your dentist at least twice a year helps you detect early warning signs of root canal infections that you might not catch with your own eyes and will fight off the reasons behind it such as severe injury to the tooth, cracked tooth, broken tooth, or a deep cavity.
Dental neglect will only worsen your situation because even if you ignore your problems, they are still there.
Stick to your routine appointments and if you experience any root canal symptoms, contact your dental care provider right away. If left untreated, a root canal can cause pain, swelling, an abscess, and other oral health complications.
Long-Term Gum Disease
This is especially tricky as the infection could have originated in the tooth’s pulp then traveled to the gums or vice versa.
It is either that the pulp tissue inside your tooth has become severely infected and the disease has moved through the openings at the end of the root to the periodontal ligament, making its way to the gums and causing periodontal disease.
The second option is that the infection originated in the gums due to plaque buildup leading to periodontal disease. The disease has then traveled to the tooth’s pulp through accessory canals located in between or on the sides of the tooth’s roots.
It can even be way easier for the infection to travel down your pulp tissues if you have fractured teeth.
Knowing where the infection has started matters when you are trying to save the affected tooth.
You should see a dentist as soon as you start experiencing gum disease symptoms such as bleeding or gum discoloration.
Root canals work to save your natural teeth by removing the inflamed nerve, whose only major role is to provide sensations of hot and cold. Since this isn’t a requirement for the tooth to function, the nerve can be safely removed and the tooth will be sealed shut, protecting the interior of the tooth and leaving it impervious to future decay.
If you are so against undergoing a root canal procedure, then your only alternatives entail taking out your natural tooth and replacing it with a bridge, implant, or removable denture, which costs much more than a root canal treatment and takes a longer recovery period, as well.
Author: Dr. Nabil Mockbil from Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai Marina