Why Some Cavities Require Root Canal Therapy

To most people, a cavity is the reason why they need a tooth filling. In fact, fillings are the most frequently-performed treatment for mild to moderate cavities, which affect almost everyone at some point in their lives. Sometimes, however, a cavity is more than a filling can address, and saving the infected tooth requires something more effective. Root canal therapy is the process of removing extensive infection from inside of a tooth’s main structure and the pulp that holds its soft tissues. For extensive cavities and tooth decay, root canal therapy is often required to save the tooth from extraction.

What Tooth Decay and Cavities Mean

Tooth decay is a chronic condition that describes the erosion of your tooth structure. It’s caused by harmful oral bacteria, and once it develops, it leaves a hole in your tooth (called a cavity) where healthy tooth structure used to be. The main part of your tooth’s crown, called the dentin, is strong and dense enough that stopping the cavity’s growth and filling it with biocompatible resin are often enough to restore it. However, at the center of the dentin lies a chamber called the pulp, which is meant to protect the nerves and blood vessels that travel through the tooth’s root and into your jawbone.

The Point of Root Canal Therapy

When tooth infection reaches the pulp, tooth-colored resin isn’t enough alone to address it. Root canal therapy is the careful process of accessing the tooth’s interior chamber and removing the infected tissues, clearing the pulp and the root canal connected to it. Then, your dentist fills these structures with a strong, biocompatible material called gutta percha, restoring their strength after having been emptied. For additional protection, root canal therapy is often followed by a dental crown being placed over the tooth.

Find Out if You Need Root Canal Therapy

While fillings are more popular, root canal therapy may be the most appropriate cavity treatment if the tooth’s pulp has been exposed to decay. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling Oxnard Dentistry in Oxnard, CA, today at (805) 604-9999. We also proudly serve patients from in and around Camarillo, Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Moore Park, and all surrounding communities.