Everything You Need to Know About Root Canals
You like going to the dentist, as long as it’s for your regular scheduled professional cleaning, right? But there’s this little pain in one of your teeth that you’ve been ignoring. You haven’t even told your dentist because, well, you’re not sure what will need to happen to take care of it. Any kind of medical or dental procedure makes you a little nervous. Your aunt or uncle told you about their root canal twenty years ago, and you’re sure you don’t want one of those.
Like everything else in dentistry, technology plus modern pain management techniques have made what used to be a big deal, not a big deal. Fear is one of the top reasons people don’t get the care they so badly deserve. Even though dentists can work wonders with full-mouth restorations, we’d love to save you money, roots, and enamel by focusing on preserving as much of your natural teeth as possible. It is possible, and regular visits to your dentist, along with early intervention, can help save your teeth and your wallet.
Most of us know that cavity fillings replace and protect enamel. But what if there is damage to the pulp, the soft tissue inside the tooth? Then your dentist will recommend a therapeutic treatment for the pulp tissue, otherwise known as a root canal.
Here are 9 questions answered about the procedure and its ability to save your teeth.
1. What is a root canal?
It is actually what it sounds like; it involves the canal that your tooth root runs through. It’s full of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. In your childhood, these tissues nourished your teeth until they were fully grown. Many people think the name comes from the actions of the procedure itself! But now that you know you already have a root canal, you can rest assured that your dentist is not going to dig canals under your teeth.
2. So why is it called a root canal?
“Root canal” has become the layman’s term for the name of the procedure; however, dentists call it an endodontic treatment. It’s the treatment of the pulp around the root of your teeth.
3. But why get one?
Endodontic treatments are often performed to save natural teeth. If your dentist recommends a tooth extraction, ask if getting a root canal is an option instead. If not, please consider getting a second opinion. Your dentist should refer you to an endodontist in the event you may need an endodontic treatment.
4. Aren’t they really painful?
They’re are not as painful as people think! Patients are given anesthesia, so it should be no more painful than a filling and can be completed in one or two appointments. Endodontists know that the possibility of pain can be a big deal to their patients, so they have multiple options for you to choose from to provide you with the most comfortable experience possible.
5. I have a life, so can I still get the procedure?
Many people can go back to school or work immediately after the procedure. It’s advisable not to eat until the numbness wears off, however. If you experience unusual pain, please call your dentist or endodontist right away.
6. What exactly does the procedure look like?
When you get a root canal, the infected pulp tissue is removed, the surrounding area is cleaned, and a filling-like substance replaces the removed pulp. This prevents the infection from spreading to the rest of your tooth, thereby saving it.
Put another way by the American Association of Endodontics (AAE), “When one undergoes an endodontic treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed.” The pain you lived with will be gone, and in its place, you will have a healthy and strong tooth for decades to come.
7. But what will happen to my tooth once the pulp is gone?
The soft tissue around your tooth root, or pulp, was used by your body to grow your tooth roots while still in development. Grown-up teeth do not need the portion of the pulp that will be removed. It will continue to be nourished by the remaining tissues surrounding the tooth.