Toothaches provide a vivid reminder that teeth aren't just inert pieces of hard tissue floating in the gums. Instead, they're intricately formed parts with layers of hard substances overlaying a delicate core. Coursing through the tooth's center, this vital bundle of nerves and blood vessels provides nutrients and sensation to each tooth. As long as the tooth stays healthy, you're rarely aware of the systems at work.
A deep cavity can give bacteria access to the inner nerve bundle. A crack extending into the same region can create stress that will need additional care to relieve. In some cases, a significant infection may develop in your jaw without any symptoms at all. In the past, if you had a tooth with a diseased nerve, you'd probably lose that tooth. Today, with called “root canal treatment,” your tooth can be saved. If Dr. Freundlich determines that the nerve won't recover or infection is present, then root canal treatment may be suggested.
Modern anesthetics provide powerful numbing for gentle removal of the inflamed nerve inside the tooth. The nerve canal undergoes disinfection and careful shaping, and a sealer fills the internal space. A filling or crown over the tooth helps return the tooth to its original condition.
Root canal treatment involves one to three visits. During treatment, your general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems with the nerves of the teeth) removes the affected tissue. Next, the interior of the tooth will be cleaned and sealed. Finally, the tooth is filled with a dental composite. If your tooth has extensive decay, your doctor may suggest placing a crown to strengthen and protect the tooth from breaking.
But Are They Safe?
Internet articles continue to circulate claiming adverse health effects from root canals, despite years of research proving otherwise. Many of these claims rest on unsubstantiated theories put forward decades ago without any scientific basis. They've been thoroughly debunked by the most credible sources, supported by unbiased research projects. In fact, one popular Facebook article sounding a false alarm shakily rests on a 100-year-old study tossed aside long ago.
Professional organizations routinely review a broad range of research projects throughout the world. The American Association of Endodontists stays abreast of all the current and past research and can clearly support the safety of this vital service. In fact, new techniques and materials make root canal treatment more successful than ever. However, even older methods still hold a proven track record, allowing millions of damaged teeth to continue functioning.