Don’t Be Afraid of Root Canals

Root canal: To merely name the procedure induces dread in some people. “I’ve got to have a root canal done.” Someone groans and you answer: “Oh. I’m sorry.” However, if you were to ask people what a root canal is or why they’re so scary, you’re likely to get all sorts of answers. People fear what they don’t understand. But a little knowledge can go a long way towards lighting up the dark that is the fear of the unknown. So let’s take a few minutes to learn about the dreaded root canal.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal treatment is commonly referred to as simply a “root canal”. This procedure becomes necessary when the tissues inside your tooth,  the pulp, become infected. This can happen as the result of deep decay (cavities) or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth. This infection can spread down the pulp and through the root canals of your teeth into tissues of your gums. This can cause an abscess to form which is a very severe and painful infection that can be dangerous to your overall health.

How Do I Know if I Need One?

Sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth are all signs that an infection that may require a root canal. Talking to your dentist during your exam about these and any other symptoms you may be having will allow he or she to decide if a root canal is necessary for your condition. Some dentists perform their own root canals but others will refer you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a specialist dentist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.

Root Canal Procedure

A root canal treatment involves your dentist or endodontist drilling a tiny hole into the crown of your infected tooth and removing the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. Being that our teeth no longer require the pulp as adults as it will continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissues. After the pulp has been removed, your dentist will use a biocompatible material to temporarily fill the space inside your tooth until restoration can begin. Where tooth decay has compromised one of the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted to hold the tooth in place in your gums.

Restoration is the final stage of the process wherein a crown is created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist creates the crown, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, and uses it to seal up the tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” tooth can be used just like your natural teeth.

Many people try to avoid root canals because they’ve heard the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Root canals may have actually been painful decades ago but with our modern technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as painful as getting a fill.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as with most illnesses. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Mark Sowell are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you do need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear. To schedule with Dr. Sowell today, call 972.382.6855 or schedule an appointment online.