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What is the purpose of a dental root canal?

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Quick Answer

Root canals are performed to treat the inside of a tooth, also called endodontic treatment, according to the American Association of Endodontists. It is performed when there is an infection or inflammation inside of a tooth that reaches the pulp and nerves.

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Full Answer

Root canals are necessary due to several reasons, including a deep cavity that went without treatment, a faulty crown, crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to a tooth that affects the pulp, notes the American Association of Endodontists. Severe pain of a tooth or sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures are common signs of needing endodontic treatment.

Getting a root canal performed saves the natural tooth, according to the American Association of Endodontists. The only alternative to a root canal is having the tooth extracted. Saving the tooth is important for a variety of reasons, including having better chewing, avoiding a more expensive tooth replacement procedure and preventing shifting of the other teeth. It also provides a more natural appearance and keeps other teeth from having excessive strain.

A root canal is performed by numbing the area and drilling a hole into the tooth, according to the American Association of Endodontists. The endodontist cleans out the infected pulp, then puts a temporary filling material inside the hole. The patient needs to get a permanent crown a couple weeks later.

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