ROOT CANAL THERAPY has gotten quite a bad name in our culture. You might’ve used an expression like “I’d rather get a root canal!” if someone presented you with an unpleasant task. That all traces back to an earlier era of dentistry when doctors couldn’t offer patients the same comforts and conveniences as we can today. We’re here to set the record straight about what modern root canal treatment is like.
We Save Teeth Through Root Canal Therapy
The common myth about root canal treatment is that it is a horribly painful procedure, but modern root canal therapy is all about eliminating pain, not causing it! We perform root canal therapy on a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted so that the patient can keep it without having to keep the infected pulp too.
No matter how careful we are to take care of our teeth, sometimes genetics or an injury can result in cavities and tooth infections anyway. Insufficient brushing and flossing certainly make it more likely that a cavity will reach the pulp chamber of the tooth, at which point it needs root canal treatment to save it.
Symptoms of an infected tooth occupy a wide spectrum, from no symptoms at all to temperature sensitivity to intense tooth pain. Lack of pain isn’t always a good sign, as it could mean that the tooth (including the nerves inside it) has already died. Another symptom is the pain and swelling of a dental abscess. If the bacteria in the tooth spread down into the gum tissue and jaw bone through the root tip, it can cause an abscess. These are very painful and can even be life-threatening.
Root Canal Treatment, Step By Step
- Step 1: Reviewing previous X-rays and performing a visual inspection of the tooth.
- Step 2: Numbing the area with a local anesthetic so the procedure will be pain-free.
- Step 3: Placing a dental dam to protect and isolate the tooth.
- Step 4: Using a special drill to create an opening in the top of the tooth to expose the pulp.
- Step 5: Removing the diseased pulp from the pulp chamber and root canal.
- Step 6: Cleaning the inside of the tooth and preparing it to accommodate a filling.
- Step 7: Applying antimicrobial medication to the inside of the tooth to prevent infection.
- Step 8: Filling the tooth with a rubber-like material.
- Step 9: Placing a temporary filling to protect the tooth from food and debris.
Your Tooth After a Root Canal
Once the procedure is complete, the tissues surrounding your tooth need time to heal. During that period, you’ll have a temporary restoration that will eventually be replaced with a permanent filling or crown. When you have your permanent restoration, you’ll be able to use the tooth as normal! This process is a much better option than pulling and replacing the tooth because even modern dentistry has no replacement teeth as good as a natural tooth.
How to Keep Your Smile Healthy All the Way to the Roots
It’s always better to prevent a problem than for it to get bad enough to require treatment, but if you do have a tooth that needs root canal treatment, don’t let outdated cultural ideas about root canal treatment get in your way. Modern root canal therapy is an incredible, pain-free procedure that saves over fifteen million teeth every year in the US alone.