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Root Canal Causes – Tacoma, WA

Why Do You Need Root Canal Therapy?

Woman on couch with tooth pain in need of root canal in Tacoma

You’ve probably already heard of root canal therapy, and you might even know that the procedure consists of removing dental pulp from your tooth to prevent further damage. But what you may not know is why the procedure even necessary in the first place. Generally speaking, root canal therapy in Tacoma is offered as a solution to tooth pain as well as a way to keep your natural smile intact. Dr. Olsson can give you tips on recognizing when root canal therapy is sometimes necessary – as well as things you can do to avoid needing it in the first place. Be sure to call us if you have additional questions or think you might need to schedule a root canal in the near future.

Toot Pulp and the Root Canal

Illustration of root canal therapy for tooth in lower arch

To understand why root canal therapy is performed, it’s important to learn about the multiple layers of the teeth. The innermost layer is called the pulp; it is a soft collection of blood vessels, tissues, and nerves. The pulp is typically protected by the much harder enamel and dentin layers. However, if said layers are broken or damaged in any way, bacteria can enter the tooth and infect the pulp.

As the result of a pulp infection, the tooth may become dark and sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. You’ll also experience a fair amount of discomfort. An untreated infection will spread throughout the rest of the mouth and can contribute to systemic illnesses (meaning conditions that affect the whole body instead of just a single part of it). Some infections might become severe enough to be life-threatening.

Common causes for needing root canal therapy include:

  • Poor oral hygiene and tooth decay that isn’t addressed in time.
  • Dental trauma caused by getting hit in the mouth or biting down on something hard. (This can crack the enamel, leaving an opening for bacteria to enter.)
  • Any other form of injury to the tooth or the inner pulp.

How to Protect Your Tooth Pulp

Smiling man in grey shirt brushing his teeth

While we’re of course always ready to treat an infected tooth, it’s obviously better if you never need a root canal at all. For that reason, we highly recommend following these tips to avoid problems with your pulp:

  • Practice excellent oral hygiene by brushing and flossing thoroughly every day. Using a fluoride-based toothpaste will both clean the tooth and help strengthen the enamel to make it more resistant to tooth decay.
  • Visit your regular dentist for a checkup at least once every six months (or twice a year). They can check for early signs of decay and treat any cavities they find before they have a chance to reach the pulp.
  • Protect your mouth at all times. If you play sports, always wear a mouthguard. Avoid biting down on popcorn kernels or anything else that’s hard. Drop bad habits such as chewing on ice and opening packages with your teeth, as these behaviors can slowly wear down the enamel and eventually cause it to break.