The best way to avoid complications and the need for procedures with regards to your dental health are to eat healthy food, brush and floss regularly, and have periodic dental checkups.

What Is A Root Canal?

From time to time people are unable to keep up with their regular dental upkeep, and wind up needing larger procedures to alleviate pain. If you incur damage to the tooth pulp, and are in pain as a result, many times it can be relieved with endodontic therapy, which is commonly known as a root canal. Many people will avoid going to the dentist becasue they believe they might need a root canal due to fear and a misunderstanding of what is entailed in the procedure. A root canal sounds far scarier than it really is, and by educating yourself on what happens during a root canal, many will find themselves far more comfortable with the procedure than they ever dreamed possible.

A cartoon about root canals
The idea behind root canals

The soft tissue portion of the tooth is known as the “pulp” and damage to it is one of the most common causes of dental pain. This area of a tooth, extending from the crown of the tooth to the root, consists of blood vessels and connective tissue. The pulp is mainly responsible for providing the nutrients necessary for a tooth to grow, but it is also the main source of pain or sensitivity in the mouth. When an issue arises with the pulp, like damage of any kind, the brain is signaled to feel pain, so as to get your attention. The reason you can’t see pulp when you look at your teeth because it is protected by a crown (a white, hard covering). This protective layer may become compromised in the case of a cavity or broken tooth due to an injury. When the tooth is compromised, germs and bacteria are able to enter the pulp chamber and cause mild to severe pain and ongoing damage. Sometimes an abscess may develop. In the case of an abscess, the patient is usually experiencing severe pain, and many times a root canal will be the only treatment that makes sense. A root canal can involve a deep cleaning of a tooth to remove an infection, removing the pulp and the root canals, or in some cases both.

Best Candidates For A Root Canal

The best candidates for a root canal are individuals with teeth that have a pulp that is dead or severely damaged. In order to make a determination if you could benefit from a root canal, see a dentist who will inspect the gum tissue surrounding the tooth, check for signs of infection, and take x-rays of the tooth.

How A Root Canal Is Done

A root canal generally consists of the following steps:

  1. The dentist will numb the area surrounding the tooth with a local anesthetic (typically Novocain).
  2. The dentist will then open the crown to expose the chamber of pulp to work on.
  3. If an abscess exists, the dentist may allow it to drain for a couple of days before performing the actual root canal. (The patient is prescribed antibiotics before the procedure to reduce any infection).
  4. The dentist will examine the pulp and then remove if it is severely damaged or dead. If the pulp is simply infected, only cleaning and getting rid of the infection may be necessary.
  5. The dentist will then clean the canals that lead to the root of the pulp in order to remove any germs and bacteria, and then possibly reshape the canals.
  6. The dentist will then fill the crown of the tooth with a temporary material, such as gutta-percha or another filler.
  7. At the next visit, the dentist will remove the temporary material, clean the tooth again, and fill the tooth with permanent filling material.
  8. At the next visit, the dentist will put a new crown on the tooth.

Even though there are many benefits to a root canal, many people are afraid of the procedure, and avoid it due to these fears. These fears are probably based upon misconceptions about the treatment. One of the most common myths about a root canal is that there is a great deal of pain involved during the treatment, however this is not the case. A dentist performing a root canal procedure will administer a local anesthetic to help minimize discomfort and medication to numb the surrounding area. The dentist may also prescribe pain medication for soreness that could result after the procedure, thus making the treatment no more painful than a typical cavity fill.

Benefits of A Root Canal

The main benefit of root canal is saving the infected tooth from having to be pulled. Teeth that are treated with root canal can even last the rest of the patients life. The benefits of a root canal are:

  • It prevents the loss of the tooth, and makes it so the tooth does not need to be pulled.
  • It eliminates the pain caused by the infection, tooth damage, or sensitivity.
  • It prevents the spread of infection to surrounding teeth or gums

Another common reason that people do not treat potential dental problems is cost. When undertaking a root canal, even people with dental insurance can expect some out-of-pocket expense. Absolute Dental has programs in place to assist with payments and the costs associated. Discuss these options with your Absolute Dental dentist or call 702-ABSOLUTE for more options.

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