Root Canals are Not So Scary
Many people who have never had a root canal have been conditioned to fear them. Whether it’s old wives tales, movie magic melodrama, or simple discomfort at having a dentist work so much in such a delicate area, people often fear root canals. However, root canals are virtually painless compared to what must be done once the need for them is ignored for far too long. Leaving an inflamed tooth untreated leads to long-term pain and a possible abscess, not to mention a lost tooth.
What are Root Canals?
A root canal is a dental treatment that removes infected and inflamed nerve tissue (pulp) from the root of the tooth. Once the pulp is removed, the dentist will carefully clean and disinfect the tooth before sealing it so that bacteria can’t find its way back inside. Once this is complete, the tooth is restored with either a crown or a filling so that it can continue to function as a normal tooth.
Causes of Root Canals
Root canals become necessary when the pulp inside a tooth becomes inflamed or infected. There are many potential causes for this inflammation, according to The American Dental Association, such as:
- Deep Cavities
- Repeated Dental Procedures
- Cracked Teeth
- Broken Down Teeth
- Injury to Teeth (sometimes there are no visible chips or cracks in the tooth to accompany these injuries)
Getting the proper care for a damaged tooth by an experienced dentist can help restore that tooth to a condition designed to last a lifetime. Failing to take action with a root canal may lead to the eventual loss of that tooth. It’s important to note, however, that teeth without nerves that have already had root canal therapy may still develop cavities or gum disease. Regular dental checkups remain critical even after root canals.
Reasons Root Canals are So Important
Root canals preserve the natural tooth from not only pain, but also from decay. The American Association of Endodontists states that there are many long-term benefits to having root canals, especially when done at the first sign of problems including:
- Maintaining bite integrity.
- Preserving a beautiful smile.
- Keeping a natural appearance.
- Protecting nearby teeth from unnecessary strain.
- Enabling greater efficiency when chewing.
What to Expect During a Root Canal
Knowing what to expect during a root canal goes a long way towards relieving anxiety and fears about the process. The American Dental Association explains that a typical root canal involves two visits:
1) During the first visit, the dentist will apply a local anesthetic to keep patients comfortable. Then the dentist will use a dam to isolate the tooth from saliva before creating an opening in the tooth’s crown.
This opening allows the dentist to remove the pulp then clean and shape the root before filling the pulp chamber and applying a temporary crown to keep saliva and bacteria out. Antibiotics are often prescribed when infections are present.
2) The second visit typically occurs one week or more later. This is the visit when the temporary filling is removed and replaced with a permanent crown.
Anyone wondering “Do I need a root canal?” will benefit by visiting the dentist and getting answers to that question. Modern dental pain management tools exist to help people overcome these fears in order to get the dental care they need to save their smiles and maintain the integrity of their bites.