A root canal is the space within the root of a tooth. It is part of a naturally occurring space within a tooth that consists of the pulp chamber (within the coronal part of the tooth), the main canal(s), and more intricate anatomical branches that may connect the root canals to each other or to the surface of the root.
The smaller branches, referred to as accessory canals, are most frequently found near the root end (apex) but may be encountered anywhere along the root length. There may be one or two main canals within each root. Some teeth have more variable internal anatomy than others. This space is filled with a highly vascularized, loose connective tissue, the dental pulp.
The dental pulp is the tissue of which the dentin portion of the tooth is composed. The dental pulp helps complete formation of the secondary teeth (adult teeth) one to two years after eruption into the mouth. The dental pulp also nourishes and hydrates the tooth structure which makes the tooth more resilient, less brittle and less prone to fracture from chewing hard foods. Additionally, the dental pulp provides a hot and cold sensory function.
Root canal is also a colloquial term for a dental operation, endodontic therapy, wherein the pulp is cleaned out, the space disinfected and then filled.
People seem to cringe when they hear the words root canal. I know that I used to. But reading the truth about these 10 root canal myths can help you get a better sense of what having a root canal really is all about.
1. Root Canals Hurt
According to the American Association of Endodontists, the perception of root canals being painful began decades ago when root canal treatments were painful. Today, with modern technology and better anesthetics, root canal treatments are no more painful than having a filling. Knowing what to expect while having a root canal can help ease a lot of anxiety.
2. Root Canals Require a lot of Visits to the Dentist
With today's cutting edge technology, most root canals can be performed in one or two office visits.
3. Crowns Cause Teeth to Need Root Canals
Many people believe that having a crown on a tooth means that the tooth will eventually need a root canal. Crowns do not cause the need for root canal therapy. If a crowned tooth does require a root canal, it could be that the tooth has abscessed or that decay has gotten underneath the crown and reached the pulp of the tooth.
4. Root Canals Cause Illness
There is no evidence to support that root canals cause illness. However, there is evidence to support the fact that people who have had root canals are no more at risk for developing illness than people who have never had root canals.
5. Root Canals Involve Removing the Roots of the Tooth
When the dentist or endodontist performs a root canal treatment, he or she remove the pulp from inside of the tooth. The roots of the tooth are not removed.