The phrase “root canal” can be scary for many people. It conjures anxiety and images of swollen jaws. What exactly is a root canal though? Technically, the procedure is known as “root canal therapy” because it is a treatment to remove infection from your root canals. Your root canals are pathways that connect the blood vessels and nerves in your teeth and gums to the other oral tissues in your mouth. When infection spreads to your root canals, it can then spread to other areas in your mouth. To avoid the need for root canal therapy, you should treat your cavities right away.

Bacteria Reach Your Root Canals Through Your Teeth

When you develop a cavity in one of your teeth, it’s because bacteria have aggregated in the area and worn away at your enamel. Once your dentist removes this bacterial buildup (characterized by the black spot you see on your tooth), you’re left with a hole in your tooth that needs a filling. If you let this cavity get worse without treating it, the bacteria work their way deeper into your tooth. Eventually, the infection can spread through the pulp of your tooth and into the root canals. From there, the bacteria can use the available pathways to reach other oral tissues.

If You Develop an Infection in Your Root Canals, You Will Need Root Canal Therapy

While ideally you’ll treat the infection in your tooth before it reaches this point, you may end up needing root canal therapy. What is this procedure? Root canal therapy involves your dentist making a small hole to access the interior of your tooth. From there, your dentist will remove all of the infected pulp and the bacteria in your tooth. To replace this pulp, your dentist will add gutta percha, a soft, rubber compound. This allows your tooth to retain its structural integrity. Your dentist will then seal the hole and add a dental crown to the top of the affected tooth.

Making Regular Visits to Your Dentist Circumvents the Problem

Root canal therapy can save your tooth and end your discomfort, but it’s far from ideal. The best case scenario for you tooth’s roots involves treating cavities before infection can spread — or better yet, avoiding cavities altogether. Making regular visits to your dentist allows you to do that. When you attend biannual dentist appointments, you allow your dentist to perform preventive treatment and remove plaque buildup. You also need to consistently brush and floss your teeth at home to ward off cavities.

Michael Flynn Dentistry Offers Restorative Treatment

Whether you have a simple cavity, or you need root canal therapy for a tooth, Michael Flynn Dentistry can help. The team at Michael Flynn also provides care at biannual dental visits that help you prevent cavities from ever forming. Schedule an appointment at Michael Flynn Dentistry by contacting the West Allis, WI office at 414-541-8250.