Ask a Dentist in Austin, Texas: What is a Root Canal?

Ask a Dentist in Austin, Texas: What is a Root Canal?

We have heard horror stories as we were sitting in the waiting room of a dentist office. The nightmare of a man with gloves, and sharp objects ready to yank out your teeth are all too common. The mouth is a very vulnerable place, and it isn’t like dentists have a good reputation in media. However, there is one procedure that adds even more anxiety for the dental office visit. A root canal. While we may have ever known in detail what it is or when it is needed, there are horror stories about it being the most painful procedure in existence.

But what is it, really? What does the term mean and how does a dentist in Austin, Texas or anywhere perform it? Is it a last resort emergency, or life-saving procedure?  Today, we are going to dispel myth from reality as we look into just what the procedure is, and when it is needed.

Image by Rafael Juárez from Pixabay

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal, for lack of better terms, is a replacement procedure for damaged pulp inside your teeth. What determines the need for the procedure boils down to just how far an infection has made its way inside a tooth’s structure.  When an abscess or other forms of infection is located at the pulp of the tooth, that means a bacterial infection has made all the way to the innermost area of the tooth. So, if you think about it, that is a pretty serious situation.  We can further explain this by illustrating the anatomy of a tooth.

Quick Tooth Anatomy

There are three main parts in the basic cross-section anatomy of the tooth, the crown, the dentin, and the pulp. The crown is the hardest part on the outside, the dentin is the layer that is in between the pulp and the hard crown. The pulp, where the infection is, resides in the innermost part of the tooth.

The pulp is the softest part of the tooth and starts from the roots to the center. It houses our nerves in the teeth and has access to our bloodstream by connecting to the inner gum line. So, if you think about it, that is the most vulnerable part of our teeth. Hence the need for protection from both the dentin and the crown. But what happens if an infection comes from below the gum? What if bacteria caused a major wound that can taint the bloodstream in the tooth?

Image by TréVoy Kelly from Pixabay

Why Some People Need Root Canals

When a bacterial infection occurs in an open wound, no matter how large or small, our bodies try to naturally fight it off by attacking it with white blood cells. This creates an accumulation of pus and swelling from the living cells and dead ones. While this infection is still being fought, the bloodstream in contact with infectious puss. And since it is that deep inside the tooth, the nature of the infection can be very extreme.

So, if there are harmful bacteria being pumped inside the tooth from below, how can a dentist fix it from above?

The Procedure

The only way to get that far below the gums without removing the tooth completely is to crack open the tooth from above. Dentists have the tools necessary to open the crown and dentin of a tooth, clean out the puss from the inside of the pulp and refill in that tooth with materials. This will not only get rid of the old harmful bacteria from the open sore, but it can also cut off the pulp of the tooth from the infected bloodstream in the way it is filled.

It is a very delicate procedure for dentists in Austin, Texas, with little room for error. But, if they pull it off without an issue, they can reach a seemingly unreachable infection.  One cannot help but admire that sort of precision and dedication it would take.

Is it Painful?

It is no more or less painful than any other procedure of that concept. If we live in an age of no anesthetics or sedatives, then there would be something to worry about. But since most dentists can provide local anesthetics or sedatives given the extreme nature of the surgery, there is really not that much of an issue. Some oral surgeons an even prescribe painkillers during recovery, just like if you were going through wisdom tooth removal or any other oral surgery.


If you are looking for dentists in Austin, Texas, feel free to call us at www.



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