Everyone knows root canals as one of the most-dreaded dental procedures. But are they really that bad? Dr. Lynn Morgan in Severna Park MD has many years of experience performing root canal procedures in her comfortable office and wants you to know that root canals actually provide relief from pain and discomfort from an infected tooth. Put simply: Needing a root canal and not having one is more painful than having one.
What is a Root Canal?
The root canal therapy, usually referred to as simply a “root canal,” is performed by your dentist when the pulp, the tissues inside your teeth, becomes infected. This most often happens as a result of a deep cavity or a chip or crack in enamel of the tooth. This infection can spread through the tooth to the root canals of the teeth (hence the procedure’s name) and become an abscess, which is a serious infection that needs to be treated as soon as possible.
Do I Need a Root Canal?
Not all dental pain is caused by an infected tooth, but there are some key indicators that might be a sign that you need to investigate it. For example, if a tooth or teeth (sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint which teeths’ roots are afflicted) are very sensitive to temperature, touch, or chewing and the gums surrounding it are inflamed and sensitive. Many dentists opt for root canal procedures to clear infections and save the tooth as their success rate is 95%.
The Root Canal Procedure
First, your dentist will sanitize and numb the area for your comfort and safety. Then, he or she will use a drill down into the top of the tooth to access the tissues inside and remove the infected pulp. Once we reach adulthood, our teeth don’t require the pulp as the tooth will still receive nutrients from surrounding tissues.
Once the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the now-empty space inside the tooth. A permanent crown is created in a dental laboratory, carefully crafted to look and feel like a real tooth, but Dr. Morgan will place a temporary crown until the permanent one arrives.
Finally, the permanent crown will be placed over the tooth, which will seal up the tooth from bacteria and air and prevent further damage and sensitivity. In only a few days, you’ll be able to use the tooth normally and you won’t even notice the difference between it and your natural teeth.
Root Canal Tips
Having a root canal procedure is only about as painful as having a filling placed and thanks to modern medicine, there’s a much lower risk of the infection spreading from the site. Most patients notice an improvement as soon as the infection is cleared out of the tooth.
So while root canals may sound scary, they are actually a helpful dental procedure designed to save your teeth. Instead of having to completely remove an infected tooth, root canals allow dentists to simply remove the infected tissue, reinforce the weakened tooth and leave the tooth intact.
You can prevent needing a root canal by brushing twice daily, flossing at least once a day, and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Morgan. Keep an eye on your smile and let her know of any changes, especially any new chips or cracks, to help keep your smile healthy and strong.