Need a Root Canal? What You Should Know

surprised woman with beautiful smileMost people don’t enjoy hearing that they need root canal treatment. Whether they’ve experienced one before or not, the process of deeply cleaning and restoring a tooth’s root canals is more complex than simply placing a dental filling. Still, if the need for root canal treatment arises, then there’s a good chance that the procedure may be the only way of saving the tooth from an extraction. If you’ve been told that you need root canal treatment, or if your tooth is in severe discomfort due to decay, then speak with your Astoria dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, about what you should do next.

The Paths of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, the disease that causes cavities (holes in your teeth) to form and leads to internal tooth infections, is a process; one that begins with poor hygiene. The plaque that clings to your teeth contains a wealth of different bacteria types. Some of them convert sugar and carbs into acids, which deplete your teeth of minerals and weakens the layer of enamel that surrounds them (acid erosion, or demineralization). Once enamel is compromised, bacteria can slip past it and infect your tooth’s main structure, called dentin, eventually making their way to the nerves and blood vessels at the tooth’s center (the pulp).

What is Root Canal Treatment?

The pulp, or hollow chamber, in the middle of your tooth houses the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and other living tissues, and is connected to the root that extends into the jawbone. Root canal treatment is necessary when infectious decay reaches the pulp and threatens to spread through the tooth’s root(s). The procedure involves removing the infected tissues and thoroughly cleaning the pulp and root canal, then filling the tooth to seal the roots and restore the tooth’s structural integrity. Usually, a dental crown is placed over the tooth to protect it from damage and improve its outward appearance once the root canal treatment is completed.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait

As a last resort, root canal treatment is typically recommended when a tooth is so decayed that a filling won’t suffice, but not yet decayed enough to warrant a tooth extraction. If you wait, then the infection can completely consume the tooth, then spread through the roots into the surrounding jawbone and tissues. The longer the infection is allowed to spread, the more extensive your treatment will be to correct the issue and save the rest of your oral health.


Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, a native New Yorker, has served patients and families from Astoria, Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and all surrounding communities since opening his dental practice in 1991. To schedule an appointment at our Astoria dentist’s office, contact us by calling (718) 728-8320 today.