The Truth About Root Canals, Part 1
Are you suffering with a bad toothache? Or do you have swollen and tender gums? Have you noticed that your teeth are extremely sensitive to temperature? Have you noticed that a tooth is a lot darker than it should be, or have you noticed a blemish or “pimple” on your gums?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s possible you might need a root canal.
Oh No! Not a root canal!
Root canals are a common procedure that most people will experience in their lives. Despite this, rumors and misinformation persist that keep people out of the chair to get the care they need. In our office in Longmeadow, MA, we see it all the time. Some people have genuine “dental phobia”. However, others who balk at root canals do so because of preconceived notions about the procedure.
Most people believe that a root canal is then most painful thing they can experience, and that a root canal is among the most traumatic procedures they can receive at the dentist’s office.
This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Root Canals Prevent Pain; They Don’t Cause Them!
Many of our patients, when they learn that they’ll need to receive a root canal, become very nervous. For most of their lives, they’ve been told that a root canal is the most painful experience they can endure.
The simple fact is this: root canals don’t cause pain, they prevent them.
Root canals become necessary when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected. Your teeth aren’t solid all the way through; inside your tooth are hollow spaces, or canals, which contain the pulp. The pulp is a bundle of nerves and tissue.
The tooth’s hard exterior provides a barrier between the pulp and the bacteria that live in the mouths of all humans. However, if for some reason the tooth is broken, or there is a cavity, bacteria can enter the tooth and infect the pulp, causing a lot of pain. If not addressed quickly enough, this can result in an abscessed tooth, which can be deadly.
If you need a root canal, the pain you’re experiencing is only going to get worse; it will never go away. Root canals are only as uncomfortable as a routine filling, and take about the same amount of time; it’s just that instead of filling a cavity, the root canal removes infection.
Here’s what you can expect during a root canal:
Following x-rays to identify where the problem is, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and the surrounding area, just like a routine filling.
Your dentist will then open the tooth and remove the infected pulp. Once the pulp is removed, the canal is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and your dentist will need to shape the canal to prepare it for a filling to seal it up with a rubbery substance. Depending on the condition of the tooth, your dentist will either place a restoration, which is usually a crown, but it could be a post that is implanted within the tooth.
The outcome is the elimination of pain caused by the infection, and the tooth itself is saved!
Remember that while dental technology is capable of amazing things, there is still no implant that can fully replace a natural tooth: natural teeth are the best thing for the job, so if we can save your tooth, we will.
It’s just that simple, and most patients are surprised at how easy a root canal actually is, once the procedure is over.
In our next blog, we’ll dig into the root of the more disturbing myths you’ll see online.
If you’re in pain, there is no reason to delay your treatment! The longer you wait, the more pain you’ll experience, and the more dangerous the situation will become.