Many people are so fearful of having a root canal that they will do everything possible to avoid one. However, despite their negative reputation as being painful and unpleasant procedures, you may be surprised to learn that root canals really aren’t anything to be afraid of. It is easy to feel nervous about having a procedure you may not know much about, so it’s important to take the time to learn some basic facts. This can alleviate your anxiety and help you see that a root canal is more helpful than harmful. Plano, TX dentist Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles would like to provide some information in defense of the root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal therapy is often called simply a “root canal” by many people. This procedure is usually recommended by your dentist when the soft tissues inside your tooth — the pulp — become infected. This infection is the result of bacteria invading the interior of your tooth through deep decay such as cavities or through a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth.
Once the infection inside your tooth has begun, it can spread down through the roots of your teeth into your gum tissue and form an abscess. This is a very severe and painful infection that can endanger your overall health by increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious medical conditions.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
There are many signs that you may have an infection in the root of your tooth. These symptoms include:
- Sensitivity of the teeth to hot and cold
- Sensitivity to touch or while chewing
- Inflammation and sensitive gums around the “problem tooth”
If you have these symptoms, you should schedule with your dentist as soon as possible so he or she can perform a complete examination, including an x-ray to see if a root canal is necessary and appropriate in your case. Some dentists perform their own root canals while others may refer you out to a local endodontist — a dental specialist that focuses on treating the insides of your teeth.
The Root Canal Procedure
To begin, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area to be treated using a local anesthetic. Then, he or she will drill down into the crown of your infected tooth, to draw out the infected pulp (soft tissue) from the interior and roots of the tooth that is troubling you. Once our adult teeth have grown in completely, they no longer need this pulp to survive because the surrounding gum tissues will continue to nourish your teeth. This is why gum health is as important to your dentist as clean and healthy teeth.
Once the infected pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the cavity inside your tooth until the restoration can be completed. In some cases, where tooth decay has damaged the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted down into the root to help fix your tooth in place in your gums.
In the final stage of the process, a crown will be created and placed over the affected tooth. Your dentist or endodontist will create the crown, matching it to the natural coloring of your teeth, and will use it to cover the treated tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” crowned tooth can be used to chew and be cleaned just like your natural teeth.
Why The Bad Reputation?
Many people are hesitant to undergo root canal therapy due to the mistaken belief that root canal therapy will be painful. To be honest: Having a root canal is less comfortable than not needing one altogether. However, sometimes, despite our best efforts, they are necessary but thanks to modern dental technology and anesthetics, a procedure that was once complex and painful is now simple and mostly comfortable. The procedure is now only about as uncomfortable as having a filling placed.
Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Plano, TX
So perhaps now that you know a little more about root canals, maybe they don’t seem so scary. Instead, we hope you’ll see the root canal for what it is: a helpful procedure designed to relieve pain and save your natural teeth so that you can chew and smile with confidence. To schedule with Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano, TX office today, call (972) 382-6855 or schedule a complimentary consultation.