What Causes a Root Canal? Everything You Need to Know

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that is performed to save a tooth that has become infected or inflamed due to decay, trauma, or other causes. The root canal procedure involves removing the damaged or infected pulp inside the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the root canals, and sealing the tooth with a filling or crown.

This webpage is designed to help you understand what causes a root canal and how to prevent it. We will discuss the most common causes of root canal, the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Root canal treatment can be a daunting prospect for many people, but it is a common and highly effective procedure that can save your teeth and protect your oral health. Whether you are currently experiencing tooth pain or just want to learn more about root canal, this webpage will provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your dental health.


What causes a root canal?

There are several reasons why a tooth may require a root canal procedure. The most common causes include dental decay, tooth fracture, and trauma. Here’s a closer look at each of these causes:

A. Dental decay

Dental decay, also known as tooth decay or cavities, is a common condition that occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acid that attacks the tooth enamel. Over time, this acid can cause a hole or cavity in the tooth, which can lead to infection and inflammation of the pulp inside the tooth.

B. Tooth fracture (broken tooth)

A tooth fracture can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as biting on hard objects, injuries to the mouth, or teeth grinding. A fractured tooth can expose the pulp inside the tooth, which can lead to infection and inflammation.

Depending on the severity of the accident you may want to seek immediate emergency dental care. Immediate dental care is crucial for emergencies because prompt treatment can help prevent further complications and potentially save the affected tooth.

C. Trauma

Trauma to the tooth, such as a blow to the mouth, can also damage the pulp and lead to root canal treatment. Even if there are no visible signs of damage to the tooth, the impact can cause inflammation and infection of the pulp.

In some cases, root canal treatment may be necessary even if there are no obvious signs of damage or decay to the tooth. This can occur if the pulp inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected for other reasons, such as repeated dental procedures, deep restorations, or gum disease. Your dentist can perform a thorough examination and determine if root canal treatment is necessary.


Symptoms of root canal

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may indicate that you need root canal treatment:

A. Tooth Pain: One of the most common symptoms of root canal is tooth pain. The pain may be sharp, throbbing, or constant, and it may be aggravated by eating, drinking, or biting down on the affected tooth.

B. Tooth Sensitivity: Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, or to sweet or sour foods, is another common symptom of root canal. This sensitivity may linger for several minutes after the stimulus is removed.

C. Discoloration: A tooth that has become discolored, darkened, or gray in color may indicate that the pulp inside the tooth is damaged or infected.

D. Swelling: Swelling or tenderness in the gums or face around the affected tooth may indicate that the infection has spread beyond the tooth.

It is important to note that not all cases needing a root canal will cause symptoms. In some cases, the infection or inflammation of the pulp may be asymptomatic, or may only cause mild discomfort. However, it is still important to get regular dental check-ups to detect any potential issues before they become more serious. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is essential to seek prompt dental care to prevent further complications.

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What is pulp of a tooth?

Structure of a tooth

A tooth is made up of several layers, including the enamel, dentin, pulp, and cementum. The enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth that covers the crown, which is the visible part of the tooth above the gum line. The dentin is the softer layer beneath the enamel that makes up most of the tooth structure. The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. The cementum is a thin layer that covers the root of the tooth and helps anchor it to the jawbone.

The role of the pulp

The pulp inside the tooth plays a crucial role in maintaining the tooth’s health and vitality. It provides the tooth with nutrients and oxygen, and it also contains nerves that sense hot and cold temperatures and transmit pain signals. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed due to decay, trauma, or other causes, it can cause pain, swelling, and other symptoms. Root canal treatment is designed to remove the damaged or infected pulp and restore the tooth to its normal function.

Treatment of root canal

A. Root Canal Procedure

Root canal treatment involves several steps:

  1. Examination and diagnosis: Your dentist will examine your teeth and take X-rays to determine the extent of the damage to the pulp and whether root canal treatment is necessary.
  2. Anesthesia: Your dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the affected tooth and surrounding area.
  3. Access opening: Your dentist will make an opening in the crown of the affected tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals.
  4. Removal of infected pulp: Using specialized instruments, your dentist will remove the infected or damaged pulp from the tooth and root canals.
  5. Cleaning and shaping of canals: Your dentist will clean and shape the root canals to prepare them for filling.
  6. Filling: Your dentist will fill the root canals with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha, and seal the access opening in the tooth with a temporary filling.
  7. Crown placement: Depending on the extent of the damage to the tooth, your dentist may recommend placing a crown on the tooth to provide additional support and protection.

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Dr. Jerry Cheung, Award-Winning Dentist in Powell Ohio

Root Canal Specialist in Columbus, Ohio

Call Bright Smile Dental today to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Jerry Cheung

B. Post-treatment care

After root canal treatment, it is important to follow your dentist’s instructions for post-treatment care. This may include:

  1. Taking pain relievers: You may experience some pain and discomfort after the procedure, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
  2. Avoiding hard or crunchy foods: To prevent damaging the temporary filling, avoid hard or crunchy foods and stick to softer foods for the first few days after the procedure.
  3. Brushing and flossing: Continue to brush and floss your teeth as usual, but be gentle around the treated tooth.
  4. Follow-up appointments: You will need to return to your dentist for follow-up appointments to ensure that the tooth is healing properly and to complete the permanent restoration.

C. Root Canal Success rate

Root canal treatment has a high success rate, with up to 90% of treated teeth lasting for 10 years or more. However, the success of the treatment depends on several factors, including the extent of the damage to the tooth, the skill and experience of the dentist, and the quality of post-treatment care. If you experience any issues after root canal treatment, such as pain, swelling, or infection, contact your dentist as soon as possible to prevent further complications.