A lot of people are a little wary about dental procedures, but some treatments, such as root canals, have a particularly bad name that scares even the bravest of patients. But there are a lot of misconceptions about root canal procedures, and when you know the facts, you’ll see there is nothing to be afraid of.
If you’ve been advised that a root canal is needed, you may be finding yourself searching for alternatives. But the truth is, if your doctor has recommended it, then it is the best option. Other potential treatments (such as tooth extraction) have more inherent risks making them a less desirable choice.
When Might I Need A Root Canal?
A root canal is needed when there is an infection or inflammation of the soft tissue (pulp) inside the root of your tooth. This pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, which is why the damage can be so painful. A root canal procedure is the best way to treat this issue to relieve pain while maintaining a natural tooth. In addition to keeping a natural appearance, a root canal will help ensure efficient chewing, maintain normal biting force and sensation, and protect other teeth from excessive wear or stain.
Will a Root Canal Procedure Hurt?
There is a common misconception that root canal procedures are arduous and painful. There was some truth to this decades ago, but with advancements in technology and anesthetics, root canals are now no more uncomfortable than a routine filling. Today, most patients express that they are pleasantly surprised by the procedure and will often describe it as painless.
What Happens During a Root Canal?
- Once it’s been identified that you will need a root canal, you may be prescribed an antibiotic. This will help with the infection in the tooth and keep it from spreading.
- Like most dental procedures, the doctor will begin with the administration of a local anesthetic. Treatment won’t begin until the tooth is numb, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure.
- The doctor will open the crown of the tooth and use very small instruments to clean the pulp and the root canals.
- After the space is cleaned and shaped, the root canals are filled with gutta-percha (a rubber like material) and sealed with adhesive cement.
- Typically a temporary filling will close the opening of the tooth. This filling will be replaced with a crown (or other recommended form of restoration) during a subsequent visit. The crown will protect and restore the tooth to its full function.
- In some cases, the treated tooth is too fragile to hold the crown in place. If so, the doctor may place a post inside to tooth to provide additional support.
- After a root canal procedure, your tooth may feel a bit sensitive, but this is more likely because of the original infection rather than the procedure itself. If left untreated, damaged soft tissue will only get worse and cause more pain.
The most important thing to remember is that your dentist has your best interest at heart. If a root canal is recommended, then it’s the best course of action to alleviate the pain you are experiencing. If you are feeling skeptical, visit our office about other options and why they may or may not be viable alternatives. The reality is that root canal procedures are increasingly routine and painless. The vast majority of people will have a successful treatment that relieves pain and aids in your oral health.