Root canal: Merely the name of the procedure induces dread in some people. While root canals have a reputation of being unpleasant, painful procedures, you might be surprised to find out they’re not as bad as you think.  As with many things, people fear the unknown, but a little knowledge can go a long way towards relieving those fears. Learn more about root canals and overcome that fear with Chesapeake, VA dentist Dr. John C. Cranham.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal treatment, which most people simply call a “root canal,” becomes necessary when the tissues inside your tooth, known as the pulp, become infected. This usually happens due to deep decay from cavities or a chip or crack in the surface of your tooth.  This infection in the pulp can spread down through the root canals of your teeth into your gum tissues, forming an abscess. This is a very serious and painful infection that can be dangerous to your overall health.

When Do I Need a Root Canal?

Signs that a root canal may be necessary are: sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold temperatures, sensitivity while chewing or to touch, and inflammation of the gum tissues around the tooth. Informing your dentist of these and any other symptoms you may be having during exams will allow him or her to decide if a root canal is necessary and appropriate for your condition. Some dentists will perform root canals while others may refer you to an endodontist, which is a dental specialist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.

The Root Canal Procedure

First, your dentist will thoroughly numb the area to be treated. Then, your dentist or endodontist drills down into the crown of your infected tooth and removes the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. As adults, our teeth no longer require the pulp as it will continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissues.

Once the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material will be used to temporarily fill the now-empty insides of your tooth until restoration can begin. In some cases, where tooth decay has compromised a root and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be installed to secure the tooth in place in your gums.

Restoration is the process whereby a crown will be created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist will design the crown, matching it to the natural hue of your teeth, and will use it to seal up the tooth. Within several days, the swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” tooth can be used to chew and be cleaned just like your natural teeth.

Why The Bad Reputation?

Many people avoid root canals due to the fear that the procedure will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Root canals may have been painful decades ago but with our modern dental technology and anesthetics, the treatment is only about as painful as having a filling placed. As far as the “horror stories” poor research from the time before the causes of these diseases and their transmission was fully understood is most likely to blame.

Comfortable Root Canal Treatment in Chesapeake, VA

So you can see that a root canal is not actually as scary as you may have thought. Instead it’s a helpful procedure designed to relieve painful infections and save your natural teeth, allowing you to once again smile and chew freely. As with most illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Cranham are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you do need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear.  To schedule an examination with Dr. Cranham in Chesapeake, VA today, call 757.656.4109 or schedule an appointment online.

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