Many people will do everything possible to avoid a root canal. However, despite their negative reputation as being painful and unpleasant, you may be surprised to learn that root canals are not as bad as you think. It is easy to be nervous over something about which you don’t know much so it’s important to take the time to learn some basic facts. This can help relieve your anxiety and help you see that a root canal is more helpful than harmful. Chesapeake, VA dentist Dr. John C. Cranham would like to give you an honest look at root canal therapy.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal therapy is often known as simply a “root canal” by many people. This procedure is usually suggested by your dentist when the soft tissues inside your tooth — the pulp — become infected. This infection is usually the result of bacteria entering the interior of your tooth through deep decay such as cavities or through a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth.
Once the infection has begun inside your tooth, it can spread down through the roots of your teeth into tissues of your gums forming an abscess. This is a very severe and painful infection that can jeopardize your overall health by increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious medical issues..
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
There are many signs that you may have an infection in the root of your tooth. These symptoms include:
- Sensitivity of the teeth to hot and cold
- Sensitivity to touch or while chewing
- Inflammation and sensitive gums around the “problem tooth”
If you have these symptoms, you should schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible so your dentist can perform a complete examination, including an x-ray to see if a root canal is necessary and appropriate in your case. Some dentists perform their own root canals while others may work with a local endodontist — a dental specialist that focuses on treating the insides of your teeth.
The Root Canal Procedure
To begin, your dentist will use a local anesthetic to thoroughly numb the area to be treated. Then, he or she will drill down into the crown of your infected tooth, and remove the infected pulp (soft tissue) from the interior and roots of the afflicted tooth. Once our adult teeth have grown in, they no longer need this pulp to survive because the surrounding gum tissues will continue to nourish your teeth. This is why gum health is important to your dentist as well as healthy teeth.
Once the infected pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the cavity inside your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, where tooth decay has damaged the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be inserted down into the root to help your tooth remain in its place in your gums.
In the final stage of the process, a crown will be created and placed over the affected tooth. Your dentist or specialist will create the crown, matching it to the natural coloring of your teeth, and will use it to cover the treated tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will recede and the “new” crowned tooth can be used to chew and be cleaned just like your natural teeth.
Why The Bad Reputation?
Many people avoid undergoing root canal therapy due to the mistaken belief that root canal therapy will be painful. To be honest: Having a root canal is less comfortable than taking proper care of your teeth and gums and avoiding needing one altogether. However, sometimes, despite our best efforts, they are necessary but thanks to modern dental technology and anesthetics, a procedure that was once painful is now mostly comfortable. The procedure is now only about as uncomfortable as having a filling placed.
Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Chesapeake, VA
So perhaps now that you know a little more about root canals, maybe they don’t seem like such a big deal. Instead, hopefully you see the root canal for what it is: a helpful procedure designed to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth so that you can chew and smile with confidence. To schedule with Dr. John C. Cranham at his Chesapeake, VA office today, call 757.656.4109 or schedule an appointment online.