“As bad as a root canal…”
Poor root canals. They’ve been so often the brunt of jokes and cliches over the years, giving them a rather undeserved reputation.
While no dental treatment that requires drilling into a tooth is considered fun, today’s root canals are rather simple procedures, in most cases. The procedure can be likened to that of having a filling. Let’s look at why root canals are beneficial and what they entail.
First, envision the center of each tooth. Inside, there is a tunnel that holds the tooth’s nerve, blood vessels and other soft tissues. The tunnel contains what’s known as the pulp chamber, which runs down canals in the center of the roots. The pulp extends to the jaw and is fed by blood vessels.
The pulp holds nerves that carry signals to the brain. For example, the pulp is what tells you when hot or cold has touched the tooth. The pulp helps to nourish and hydrate the tooth, giving it resiliency and strength.
A root canal is performed when the nerve in the pulp becomes infected. Infection can occur from a crack or fracture, cavity or other injury to the tooth. Symptoms of its need typically include pain and swelling in the area.
Without treating the infection, the tooth is likely to require removal. A root canal is designed to save the tooth by removing the dead nerve tissue and infection inside a tooth.
Root canals are performed with the area thoroughly numbed. If desired, oral or I.V. sedation can be added to treatment. The process takes less time today through more advanced techniques and equipment.
In the procedure, we use a small drill to make an opening in the top part of the tooth to expose the pulp. Using special tools, we remove the infected nerve and clean the canal inside the tooth. We then dry and fill the cleaned area with a special material.
Once the tooth is filled, a crown is often the wisest way to prevent further damage to the tooth.
Each tooth has a role and, whenever possible, saving a tooth is the best way to prevent future problems from occurring to other teeth. Plus, those tooth roots are just as important as what’s above the gum line. They help to maintain your jaw bone mass and keep other teeth in position.
If you find you need a root canal, don’t cringe. We promise to make the procedure a surprisingly quick and comfortable appointment!