Each of our teeth is secured to the jaw bone by one or more roots. There is one root each in the front teeth, two in the premolars and the lower molars, and three in the upper molars. In the middle of each root lies one or more tiny tubes called root canals.
Root canals contain what is called the pulp – the blood vessels and nerves that keep the tooth alive.
This article on root canal treatment is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
This pulp can become infected through an untreated tooth cavity, a cracked filling or as a result of severe trauma to the tooth. Once infection sets in, the recommended course of action is root canal treatment – also known as endodontics. This involves removing the infected pulp and replacing it with an inert substance to prevent re-infection.
Following the treatment, the tooth will be ‘dead’, but will be preserved cosmetically and should not present any further problems. In the past, root canal treatment has left teeth darker, however modern technology means root filled teeth no longer look any different to healthy ones.
Are there any alternatives?
If the pulp is infected there is little chance to save the tooth as a healthy living tooth. The only alternative to root canal treatment is extraction. Although this may involve a much shorter treatment time and less inconvenience, it should only be considered as a last resort, as you should aim to keep as many natural teeth as possible.
How is Root Canal Treatment performed?
Due to the delicate nature of root canals – some can be less than 0.05mm across – treatment is a lengthy process and may need to be undertaken across several visits.