What Causes a Root Canal

When you hear someone talk about needing a root canal, it’s normally not something they’re excited about. Root canals have gotten a bad reputation over time, but once you understand why you might need a root canal and what happens during a root canal, it becomes less frightening. Below are some of the common causes of a root canal according to the American Association of Endodontists.


  1. Deep Decay

Deep decay develops from an untreated cavity. Although you may think going to the dentist every six months isn’t necessary, it’s actually very important! Your dentist can check for cavities and treat them before you develop deep tooth decay. Cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth, sugary drinks, and not thoroughly cleaning your teeth. When a cavity is left untreated, it can get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth. This is when you would likely be referred to an endodontist and possibly need a root canal.


  1. Repeated Dental Procedures on the Same Tooth

This may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes having too many dental procedures on the same tooth can lead to needing a root canal. If your dentist needs to fill a cavity more than once, or if you get more than one cavity on the same tooth, there is the possibility that the pulp in your tooth has sustained too much damage or experienced too much trauma. If this is the case and you’re experiencing pain, you should consider seeing an endodontist.


  1. A Faulty Crown

Again, this might seem like an odd reason to need a root canal, but it’s important to remember that crowns are not placed on healthy teeth. A crown is essentially a cap that covers the top of your tooth, or in some cases, your entire tooth. A crown is needed when there is a large cavity that is threatening the health of the entire tooth. Unfortunately, since the tooth is not healthy when the crown is put on, there are instances where the crown does not work as intended, and you continue to experience dental pain.


  1. Injury to the Tooth

An injury to the tooth may be visible, like a crack or a chip in the tooth, or it might be invisible and only affecting the tooth’s pulp. Most teeth injuries are caused by an accident, like a car accident or a sports injury. If a tooth is cracked or chipped, actions like chewing can cause pressure and irritation to the tooth’s pulp. Eventually, the tooth’s pulp will not be able to heal itself. If the crack or chipped tooth goes untreated, the pulp can become infected, and you will need a root canal. Similar to a chipped or cracked tooth, if your tooth experiences a root fracture or other internal injury, the pulp can become irritated and eventually infected if not treated. Seeking proper treatment after an injury will help you avoid needing a root canal.

In most situations, a root canal can be avoided if you maintain proper dental care and see your regular dentist at any sign of pain or tooth injury. If you do need a root canal though, there’s no need to be afraid. A root canal is a relatively painless procedure thanks to modern medical advancements, and the best part is it saves your natural tooth!


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