Root canal therapy is a procedure that uses special techniques to remove decay or other damage that occurs in the tooth's central portion called the pulp, where nerves and other tissues that support the health of the tooth are found. The goal of root canal therapy is to help patients avoid tooth loss that often follows once the central pulp portion is damaged.
Root canals are performed in a way similar to the method used to treat a "regular" cavity. The tooth is first numbed, and then special instruments are used to reach into the pulp portion and remove the decayed or damaged area of pulp. Next, the area is carefully cleaned of debris and then sealed to prevent bacteria from reaching to lower levels of the root. Then the cavity is filled using a special filling material to help stabilize the tooth. In most cases, a crown will also need to be applied to the tooth to provide additional strength and to hide discoloration that typically occurs following a root canal procedure.
It's always better to retain your natural teeth whenever possible. When a tooth is lost, it creates a space or gap. Unless the tooth is replaced promptly, neighboring teeth will begin to lean in toward space, causing their roots to shift and become weak and eventually causing additional tooth loss. Missing teeth can also expose additional surfaces to disease-causing bacteria and decay. Plus, tooth roots help stimulates the replenishment of jaw bone tissue. Once a tooth is lost, bone tissue is not replaced, and the bone will atrophy, which can also play a major role in additional tooth loss. And finally, preserving your natural tooth is usually a much less complex and costly process.
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