At the center of each tooth is pulpal tissue, which is located in the inner chamber of the tooth containing the blood vessels, nerves and other tissues. Root canals are small passageways that spread out from the center of the tooth, that then course their way down into the root of the tooth until they finally reach the tip of the root. These pathways allow your nerves and blood vessels from the jaw to connect to the tooth providing nutrients and sensation to the pulp.
All of your teeth have somewhere between one and four root canals. Anterior teeth usually only have one canal, pre-molars may have one or two canals, and the posterior molars usually have three or four canals. However, the anatomy of the root canal system in each tooth can vary from person to person.
Many problems with teeth involve damage or trauma to the nerve/pulpal tissue in the center of the tooth. Tooth decay can lead to an infection that can ultimately spread to the pulp, and then travel down the root canals in your teeth and begin to affect the roots of the teeth and even the bone at the tip of the roots. Any traumatic injury to a tooth, or a crack or fracture in the tooth can also compromise the pulp tissue, leading to similar problems down the line. Pain and sensitivity are some of the first indications of a problem; a spreading infection can cause small pockets of pus or bacterial byproducts to develop at the tip of each root, leading to an abscess on the tooth.
Root canal therapy is an innovative treatment with a very high rate of success. It involves removing the diseased pulpal tissue, which halts the spread of infection, blocking or plugging the canals from being re-infected in the future, and restoring the healthy portion of the tooth. Root canal therapy treatment is designed to save a problem tooth so that it can then be maintained in the mouth. Before this procedure was developed and gained acceptance in the dental field, the only alternative for treating this type of diseased tooth was an extraction.
The doctors at The Smile Zone perform root canal therapy treatment on most teeth, but sometimes it may be necessary to refer to a root canal specialist. Some teeth have especially calcified, curved, or obscure root canals. These are the kinds of teeth that our doctors would then refer to a root canal specialist for further examination. Root canal specialists often have microscopes for your teeth to help find small canals, and navigate through difficult canals.