Getting to the Root of Root Canals

Getting to the Root of Root CanalsRoot canals, perhaps more than any other common dental procedure, are the subject of fear and trepidation for thousands of people. Most of this nervousness stems from horror stories passed down by parents, and a general lack of understanding of the extent to which modern dentistry has made these procedures relatively painless experiences. In fact, if taken care of early, root canal procedures can actually save you from years of pain and worry, and even allow you to keep your natural teeth rather than having to have them pulled because of an infection. Today, we’ll take a closer look at why and how our dentists in Charlotte perform root canal services, and address some common concerns of patients about to undergo root canal procedures.

Why Root Canals Matter

First, it’s important to understand why we perform root canal procedures in the first place. As its name implies, the root canal is the hollow portion of a tooth that contains living tissue, called the pulp. This pulp consists of the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues that keep teeth healthy and alive. Sometimes, when teeth aren’t properly cared for and decay sets in, this pulp can become infected by harmful bacteria. These infections are not only painful, they’re also dangerous. If left unattended, the infection can spread into your jawbone and even into your bloodstream. These infections also tend to be quite painful. Likewise, it’s important that root canal infections are attended to as soon as possible.

How the Procedure Works

A root canal procedure is an endodontic treatment, meaning that it happens inside the tooth.

First, a dentist will apply a local anesthetic to the tooth and surrounding gums, and then isolate the tooth from the rest of the mouth with a dental dam. This is a precautionary step to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread as a result of the procedure.

Why root canals matterNext a small hole is drilled in the top of the tooth to allow access to the root canal. Using specialized tools, your dentist will extract the infected pulp and then clean and disinfect the hollow root canal. The root canal will also be reshaped to ensure that it’s clean, open and free of any residual infection. Next, the root canal is filled with a material designed to replace its natural pulp. The tooth is able to survive because the connective membrane between the root and jawbone is left intact. Finally, a protective crown is applied to the top of the tooth to ensure it’s completely sealed.

Why Not Just Pull it?    

Some people would rather have a tooth pulled than have to undergo a root canal, but this isn’t always the best option. When treated early, a root canal procedure can allow you to keep your natural tooth for decades. A dental bridge, on the other hand, will be more prone to eventual failure. If you take care of your root canal soon after an infection is identified, it can actually save you money on necessary dental treatments in the future.

So, How Bad Will it Hurt?

If you’re reading about root canals, this is probably the big question on your mind. The good news is that when done properly, root canals are actually quite painless! When your dentist first begins the procedure, they’ll check in with you periodically to make sure the local anesthetic is working effectively. If you do feel any discomfort, just let them know so they can stop and apply more anesthetic. Generally speaking, the process isn’t all that different from having a conventional filling. You’ll feel some vibration and your jaw might get a little sore from holding your mouth open, but that should be the extent of your discomfort. A root canal procedure is far less painful than living with an infected tooth.

Here at Modern Family Dental Care in Charlotte, we’ve been able to preserve the natural teeth of our patients with root canal procedures on many occasions. Root canals might have reputation for being scary, but in our capable and caring hands they’re really nothing to be afraid of. Don’t wait to treat that tooth! Give us a call today and let us help you eliminate the pain and preserve your oral health for the future.