What is a root canal?
Although your teeth are bone, they are living tissue, and have both a nerve and blood vessels going into them. When your tooth gets decayed, the cavity can get close enough to the tooth so that the tooth becomes very sensitive to temperature as well as sweets. Also, infection can set in, and then you have a bad tooth ache!
The nerve and blood vessels go into the tooth through the roots via, what we call, conduits. A front tooth will usually have just one conduit, bicuspids will usually have 2 conduits, and molars will have 3 to 4, and sometimes 5 conduits. When a root canal must be done, in order to save the tooth, all of the conduits will need to be cleaned out, removing the pulp, as well as the nerves and blood vessel. This makes the tooth have no more feeling, on the inside.
If there is infection, the dentist specialist will have to first clean out the tooth, and then place medication inside the tooth, and wait for a week for the medication to kill the bacteria, sometimes the patient will have to also go on oral anti-biotics for a week. If there is no infection, or once the infection is cleared up and the root canal is finished, the dentist can go ahead and prep the tooth for a crown.
After the root canal, since there is no more blood flow into the tooth, the tooth is actually dead. On result is the tooth can become brittle over time, that is why the dentist will need to do a core build up with a post inside the tooth, in order to reinforce it. Also, a crown need to be placed to cap the tooth so that it doesn’t end up breaking. Remember that the root canal is done to give your teeth more years of service. You need to maintain good hygiene, and not chew hard things, so that they will last. But a root canal and crown is not going to last forever. It will buy you from 10 to 15 years, sometimes more. Eventually, you may need a dental implant.
One more thing to note is that although the tooth has no feeling on the outside, it still has feelings from the ligaments that attach it to the jawbone. Sometimes food can get crammed inside the gum, or if the crown is slightly high and needs adjustment, those ligaments can get inflamed, and make you tooth sore and hurt almost like it needs another root canal. But unless infection has comeback at the tooth roots, your pain is easy to fix. In the case of a high crown, the dentist can grind it down a little. In the case of food in the gum, you can fix that by flossing regularly, and even better, use a water flosser, aka waterpik. If that doesn’t take care of it, go into the dentist who will do an x-ray, check-up, and do any adjusting of the crown, or clean out any pockets in the gum.