Nobody wants a root canal! They’re known as one of the most-dreaded dental procedures. But are they really that bad? Dr. James Dickert and Agatha Lynn of West Ashley Family Dentistry in Charleston SC have many years of experience performing root canal procedures in their comfortable office and want you to know that root canals actually provide relief from pain and discomfort from an infected tooth. Put simply: Needing a root canal is worse than having one.
What is a Root Canal?
The procedure of root canal therapy, often referred to as simply a “root canal,” is performed by your dentist when the pulp, the interior tissues of your teeth, become infected. This can happen as a result of a deep cavity or a chip or crack in enamel (hard exterior layer) of your tooth. This infection can spread through the tooth to the root canals of the teeth down in your gums (hence the procedure’s name) and become an abscess. This is a serious infection that needs to be treated as soon as possible or it can threaten your general health, or even your life.
Do I Need a Root Canal?
An infected tooth is not the source of all dental pain, but there are some signs you need to look out for and investigate. For example, when a tooth or teeth (sometimes you can’t pinpoint which teeth are affected) are very sensitive to temperature, touch, or chewing and the gums surrounding it are inflamed and sensitive. Many dentists opt to perform the root canal procedures to clear infections and save the tooth because their success rate is 95%.
The Root Canal Procedure
First, your dentist will sanitize and numb the area for your comfort and safety. Then, he or she will use a drill down into your tooth (usually from the top) to access the interior tissues and remove the infected pulp. Once we reach adulthood, our teeth don’t need the pulp anymore as the tooth will still receive nutrients from surrounding tissues.
Once the compromised pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the now-empty space within the tooth. A permanent crown is created in a dental laboratory, carefully crafted to look and feel like your other natural teeth, but your dentist will only place a temporary crown until the permanent one arrives.
Finally, the permanent crown will be set over top the treated tooth, which will seal it up from bacteria and air and prevent further damage and sensitivity. In just a few days, you should be able to use the tooth normally and won’t even notice the difference between it and the rest of your teeth.
Root Canal Tips
Undergoing a root canal is only about as painful as having a cavity filled and, now, thanks to modern medicine, there’s a much lower risk of the infection spreading from the site of the procedure. Most patients will notice an improvement as soon as the infection is cleared out of the tooth and any discomfort from the procedure is usually gone in a day or two.
So while many fear them, root canals are actually a helpful dental procedure designed to save your teeth. Instead of having to completely remove a tooth with an infected root, root canals allow dentists to simply excise the infected tissue, reinforce the weakened tooth and leave the tooth intact.
You can avoid needing a root canal by brushing twice daily, flossing at least once a day, and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Dickert or Dr. Lynn at West Ashley Family Dentistry. Keep an eye on your smile and let them know of any changes, especially any new chips or cracks, to help keep your smile healthy and strong.